No miracle from Parsons this time
Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 1, 2010 at 12:07 a.m.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Once again, Florida junior forward Chandler Parsons tried to conjure some late-game magic.
But for as many shots as the 6-foot-9 Parsons made down the stretch, he and the rest of the Gators didn’t have enough in a heartbreaking 61-60 loss at Tennessee.
Parsons scored Florida’s final seven points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds over Tennessee center Wayne Chism that put the Gators ahead 60-59.
“I was just trying to step up for my team,” Parsons said. “I knew they (Tennessee) were switching on pick and rolls, I knew I had a mismatch and Chism just played off of that 3 so I shot the ball with confidence.”
Parsons had hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat South Carolina on Jan. 23. At North Carolina State on Jan. 3, Parsons hit a 75-footer at the buzzer to beat the Wolfpack in overtime.
Parsons had chances to score more, but he made just one-of-two free throws with 2:41 remaining to cut Tennessee’s lead to 55-54. Then, after he was fouled by Tennessee forward J.P. Prince with 1:41 left, Parsons made just one of three free throws with 1:39 left to keep Tennessee ahead 57-55.
But Parsons didn’t allow the misses to affect his concentration. First, Parsons helped force a Prince turnover along the baseline to help the Gators regain possession. Then, Parsons scored on a drive to the basket with a minute remaining to tie the score at 57.
“One of the things with Chandler is he’s just got length and size and when you’ve got length and size it allows you to make some plays,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “He puts it on the floor pretty well. I was really proud of Chandler that he maintained a level of aggressiveness in the whole game.”
Parsons dropped to 65.5 percent from the free-throw line following his 2-for-5 performance. But Tennessee was equally woeful from the free-throw line, making just 4 of 12 attempts.
Despite Parsons’ play down the stretch, Florida dropped to 4-3 in games decided by five points or less.
“It’s tough,” Parsons said. “We’ve been on the other side. No game comes down to one play, one shot. We win as a team, we lose as a team.”
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl may have Florida coach Billy Donovan’s number. But Pearl and Donovan teamed up Saturday night for a cause greater than a college basketball game.
Donovan took an hour and a half out of his time to attend Pearl’s OUTLIVE cancer fundraiser at the Knoxville Marriott. The program arose from former Tennessee guard Chris Lofton’s bout with testicular cancer two years ago. Together, the two coaches raised close to $60,000, which will fund cancer screening tests.
Pearl made it a point to mention Donovan’s involvement in Sunday’s postgame press conference. A story about the event was featured in Sunday’s Knoxville News-Sentinel.
“There are very few coaches in the country that would take an hour-and-a-half out of their time the night before a game to do something like that,” Pearl said. “I hope our community appreciates that. Billy Donovan is a special man.”
Donovan dropped to 1-8 head-to-head against Pearl. Five of the losses against Tennessee have been in games decided by five points or less.
“Certainly the last couple of years, they were just a better team, calling it like it is,” Donovan said. “Two years ago they won the SEC. Last year they were right there.”
A snow and ice storm Saturday night in Knoxville didn’t affect attendance. Tennessee sold out Thompson-Boling Arena with an announced attendance 21,208 and most of the seats were filled. ... Florida senior Dan Werner (3 points, 1 assist) made his first 3-pointer since Jan. 9 against Vanderbilt, ending an 0-for-8 shooting slide from beyond the arc. ... Tennessee’s bench outscored Florida’s bench 15-8. ... Both coaching staffs wore sneakers as part of a National Association of Basketball Coaches initiative to promote awareness on the dangers of gambling in college sports.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.