Saturday, November 22, 2014

UF Basketball: #8 UF Survives Against UL-Monroe

The #8 Florida Gators survived an overtime scare against the UL-Monroe Warhawks tonight in the O-Dome. Thanks to some clutch free throw shooting by Kasey Hill down the stretch, the Gators were able to pull out a 61-56 victory. Free throws were a major factor in this game as the Gators went to the line 32 times compared to just eight times for the Warhawks. Florida went 24 of 32 from the free throw line while UL-Monroe went 5-8.

The Gators had two players who reached double digits tonight. The first player I'll highlight was the leading scorer in Michael Frazier II. He had 21 points and was 11 of 13 on his free throw attempts! His 13 attempts were the most by any Gator in the game. He was also the second highest rebounder as he brought down eight boards for the Orange and Blue.

The second player in double digits was freshman Chris Chiozza, or "ChiChi" as my friends and I like to call him. Chiozza had 11 points and was 4 of 6 from the line. He also brought it on the defensive side of the ball as he recorded a game high four steals!

The Gators leading rebounder once again was Jacob Kurtz, who started his second consecutive game in place of Dorian Finney-Smith. He had 13 rebounds tonight, which is definitely a career-high! He was also able to rack up six points for the second straight game and was the team's leading distributor with three assists. From what I can tell, Kurtz seems to be improving every game!

Some other Gators worth noting are graduate Jon Horford, sophomore Kasey Hill, and sophomore Chris Walker. First I'll start with Horford.

I do not know what it was, but Horford was not a factor at all tonight on the boards as he had just four rebounds. However, if Kurtz is going to go out and get 10+ rebounds a game, then I think I can take some pressure off of Horford. He made up for his lack of rebounding with some offensive production as he scored nine points. He also made the Warhawks still deal with his sheer size as he blocked four shots!

Now on to Kasey Hill. He did much better offensively this game as he totaled eight points. As I noted earlier, he helped the Gators close out the win in overtime as he sunk a few pressure-packed free throws. Hill went 4 of 6 line and also dished out two assists.

In my last article, I said that Hill and Frazier II needed to find a way to motivate each other to start playing better. It appears something of that sort has occurred as Frazier II led the team in points and Hill put the game away from the line. However, Hill still went 2 of 12 on his shot attempts. He needs to clean that up if he wants to keep seeing playing time.

Finally, there is Chris Walker. I still haven't officially seen him play in person as I did not attend the game tonight. I was tired from a long week and I also wanted to catch the end of the Gator soccer game on WatchESPN. Moving past my personal issues now, let me elaborate on Walker's performance.

In his first appearance of the season, Walker saw 26 minutes of playing time and scored four points on 2 of 5 shots. He hauled in four rebounds and had one block. Not overwhelmingly impressive, but it was Walker's first game of the year so I'm not going to be too critical of him.

The name of college basketball is survival, and that's just what the #8 Gators did tonight. After losing to Miami on Monday, a loss tonight to UL-Monroe most certainly would have knocked Florida down between the 20 and 25 spots in the polls.

Now 2-1, the Gators will prepare to get some sun as they head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament over Thanksgiving Break. The first opponent they will face will be the Georgetown Hoyas (2-0) on Wednesday, November 26th. Tipoff is 9:30 p.m. I can't wait!

UL-Monroe (2-1), will look to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they head home to take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-1) on Wednesday, November 26th. Tipoff is 2:30 p.m.

*All stats accredited to

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