Saturday, December 6, 2014

UF Basketball: UF vs #11 Kansas

It was a tale of two halves for the Florida Gators tonight as they took on the #11 Kansas Jayhawks on the road. The Gators were on fire in the first half as they shot 56.3% from the field on route to building a 15-point halftime lead. In the second half, it was a completely different story as the Florida Gators fell apart. They shot just 34.5% from the field and at one point it seemed like the Gators could not buy a bucket as Kansas came storming back to win the game 71-65.

The player who deserves a ton of credit for engineering Kansas's comeback is sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr. In the second half especially, the Florida Gators seemed to have no answer for Selden as he torched Florida for a game-high total of 21 points. 

Kansas's second-half surge did not just come from Selden, however, as junior forward Perry Ellis and sophomore guard Frank Mason III had 10 and 12 points, respectively. They both had five rebounds a piece a well. It is also worth mentioning that Kansas went to the foul line 32 times compared to Florida's 10.

Looking at the game as a whole, it is easy to just look at Florida's second half collapse and ignore the fact that four Gators reached double figures in scoring. They were true freshman Devin Robinson, sophomore Chris Walker, graduate Jon Horford, and junior Michael Frazier II. Robinson, Walker, and Horford were the only Gators who were able to get the foul line.

Robinson was the team's leading scorer tonight as he had 13 points on four of nine shooting. He nailed two three-pointers on three attempts and made three of his four foul shots. He was one of three Gators to nab a game-high five rebounds and defensively he recorded a steal and a block. He was also the only Gator player to foul out as he did so with 1:11 left in the game.

Coming in after Robinson is Chris Walker with 12 points. Even though he took just six shots, he was the most efficient Gator shooter from the field as he converted five of them. From the foul line, he sank two of his four attempts. He also had five rebounds and added one block on defense. Walker is still being used sporadically as he saw 15 minutes of playing time tonight, the second fewest in the game.

Jon Horford is next with 10 points on four of nine shooting. He made both his free throws and did not hit on any of his five three-point attempts. He rounds out the Gator rebounding leaders with his five boards to go along with his two steals on defense.

Finally, there is Michael Frazier II. Draining two of his five three-point attempts, Frazier II scored 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting. He brought down four rebounds and had two assists. He was not the only junior struggling in this game as Dorian Finney-Smith had just seven points on three of eight shooting. Finney-Smith made just one three-pointer and totaled just three rebounds and one assist. He had one block.

In the point guard competition, both Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza brought unique styles to the game tonight. Hill dished out a game-high eight assists while scoring five points on two of nine shooting. ChiChi had six points on two of five shooting, but he found a way to dish out four assists and defensively he had three steals. Both of the shots ChiChi made came from three-pointers.

Hill's passing out-shined ChiChi, but ChiChi's offensive threat from three-point land and defensive ability out-shined Hill. In regards to playing time, Hill still has a slight edge as he played 32 minutes compared to ChiChi's 24. Nevertheless, this is still a very interesting position battle to keep track of as the Gators head into the bulk of their non-conference schedule in December.

Now sitting at 3-4 after losing a completely winnable road game, the Florida Gators will travel back to Gainesville in preparation for their next game against the Yale Bulldogs (8-2). This game will be no cakewalk as the Bulldogs just upset the defending National Champion UConn Huskies on the road with a buzzer beater. This should be a good game to watch. This game is on December 8th and tipoff is at 7 p.m.

On the other side, the #11 Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) are fortunate to have won tonight's game as the Gators gave it away in the second half. Still, a win is a win. The Jayhawks will now turn their attention to their upcoming road game against the Georgetown Hoyas (4-2). This game is on December 10th and tipoff is at 7 p.m.

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