UF’s loss in Columbia a learning experience


Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 10:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 10:54 p.m.

Missed free throws. Missed assignments.

Facts

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Who: No. 24 Florida
at Vanderbilt
When: 1:30 p.m., Sunday
TV: CBS
Radio: 103.7 FM, AM-850

Missed opportunities.

No. 24 Florida (16-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) will have plenty to think about after its 10-game hot streak was snapped in stunning fashion Wednesday at South Carolina. The 70-69 loss to USC on a buzzer-beating lay-in from guard Zam Fredrick ended a game in which UF let a seven-point lead slip away in the final two minutes.

I think the one thing you have to learn, whether its an emotional win or an emotional loss, is that you keep it in perspective, Florida coach Billy Donovan said. Its on to the next challenge. How do we get better?

That challenge will come when Florida travels again for a nationally televised game Sunday at Vanderbilt.

We have to go back to practice and fix the things that need to be fixed, Florida senior guard Walter Hodge said.

That will begin at the free-throw line. Poor free-throw shooting finally came back to haunt Florida on Wednesday night. The Gators could have closed out the game had guard Nick Calathes and forward Chandler Parsons each made the front-end of one-and-one free-throw attempts in the final 13.3 seconds.

Florida shot 9-of-15 (60 percent) from the line Wednesday night. For the season, Florida is shooting 67.5 percent from the free-throw line for the season and 66.7 percent (48-72) in SEC games.

Florida also had 18 turnovers against the Gamecocks but settled down after turning the ball over five times in the last five minutes.

I made some careless plays, not just at the end but in the whole game, Calathes said.

Coming off the tough loss Wednesday, Florida will be returning to the site where it endured one of its toughest losses last season. The Gators nearly rallied back from a 12-point second-half deficit at Vanderbilt last year, but were unable to overtake the Commodores in a 61-58 loss. Hodge was whistled for a technical foul in the closing minutes off a made UF basket, stalling Floridas momentum. Florida still had a chance to take the lead late, but Calathes and former point guard Jai Lucas collided on a handoff near midcourt, resulting in an over-and-back violation that turned the ball back over to Vanderbilt.

Weve traditionally had hard-fought games against (Florida) here, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. I dont expect it to be any different on Sunday.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com.

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