Florida survives against rival Florida State
Ian Miller nearly hit the shot of the season from half court that would have given Florida State a buzzer-beating win over Florida, but the ball clanked off the back of the rim, and the Gators hung on for a good early season victory, 67-66.
It was far from a pretty game for Florida. They allowed the Seminoles to claw their way back into the game and tie it at 66 in the final minute, after leading 63-55 with 2:44 remaining. They shot just 38% from the field (23-61) and 63% from the line (15-24) -- four of those misses from the line came in the final 2:18 that allowed Florida State back into the game. Scottie Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith, who were both suspended earlier in the season, combined to shoot 4-25 from the field.
But, the Gators did enough to win, and this is a win that will prove to be a pretty good one later this season as Florida State has looked like a strong team in the early going with a convincing win over Virginia Commonwealth and overtime loss to Michigan.
While Wilbekin and Finney-Smith are back on the team, having Damontre Harris still suspended is another piece that the Gators are sorely missing. Harris, a transfer from South Carolina, is a 6-foot-10 center who would nicely complement Patric Young on the inside.
The underlying story for the Gators though is the play of Wilbekin and how he goes about taking over the starting point guard duties Kenny Boynton held last season. Wilbekin is a proven player who played significant minutes a year ago and is more than capable of running the show as a senior, but he looked like a player who missed the first five games of the year due to suspension. Shooting 2-13 from the field, missing layups, and taking questionable shots certainly didn’t help the Florida offense. However, he did dish out seven assists to just two turnovers.
Florida is now 6-1 through their first seven games, and ranked No. 15 in the country. To date, they haven’t looked the part as the No. 15 team, but Billy Donovan has also been parading a depleted roster out on the floor most nights. With Wilbekin and Finney-Smith now back, Florida will no doubt get better. We will have a much better idea of just how good Florida is on December 17th as their next three games are against UConn, Kansas, and Memphis -- quite a stretch for the Gators.