UF falls to Rutgers in double overtime
Published: Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 8:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 30, 2011 at 12:00 a.m.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Florida's high-charged offense was a dysfunctional mess throughout its matchup with unranked Rutgers on Thursday night.
And yet, the game was still there for the taking for the Gators. But No. 10 Florida couldn't hold a seven-point lead in the final 2:04 in regulation and fell 85-83 in double overtime to Rutgers (8-5) before 7,855 at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
After Florida senior point guard Erving Walker missed a fall-away 16-footer at the buzzer, Rutgers fans poured out of the student section and onto the court. The Gators (10-3) fell to 0-3 on the road and had their five-game winning streak snapped.
“They wanted it more than us,” Florida junior guard Kenny Boynton said. “We made too many mistakes. It wasn't the underclassmen, it was the upperclassmen. That's what is disappointing.”
Boynton led Florida with 26 points, but made a critical mistake that helped Rutgers get back into the game. Florida led 66-59 with 2:04 left after forward Erik Murphy made an inside layup. But after Rutgers freshman Myles Mack hit a 3-pointer to cut Florida's lead to 66-62, Boynton took three dribbles before being whistled for a traveling violation underneath the basket.
Boynton said he was looking for players in the middle and the right of the floor to pass to but didn't see them.
“I take full responsibility for that,” Boynton said.
Rutgers freshman Eli Carter then hit a layup to cut Florida's lead to 66-64. Walker then dribbled the ball upcourt, but weaved his way into trouble. Carter stripped Walker, Florida's second turnover in the span of 24 seconds.
Dane Miller tied the score at 66 for Rutgers with an inside layup with 45 seconds left in regulation. Florida had a chance to win the game in regulation, but a driving layup by Walker bounded out of the basket.
“Obviously that was not good,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “We had two costly turnovers. But I really felt like the difference in the game was their guys played the right way, and after the first five or eight minutes, we didn't play the right way.”
In particular, Donovan said he felt the Gators should have worked the ball inside to Patric Young more. Young had just five shot attempts at the end of regulation and eight for the game.
Young scored seven of his 11 points in the first overtime, scoring on a three-point play to put Florida up 72-71, a putback to put the Gators up 74-73 and two free throws that extended UF's lead to 76-73 with 32 seconds left.
“I felt like in overtime, I had to step up,” Young said. “We weren't utilizing me throughout the game. When we did that early in the game, good things were happening.”
But with 13 seconds left, Carter hit an open 21-foot 3-pointer for Rutgers that tied the score at 76. Donovan said Young should have been there to contest Carter on the defensive switch, but called the 3-pointer a “tough shot.”
Again, Florida had a chance to win, but freshman Bradley Beal dribbled the ball off his foot with 4 seconds left, leading both teams to a second OT.
Rutgers seized control of the game in the second overtime, with Carter hitting back-to-back baskets to put the Scarlet Knights (8-5) up 82-78. Beal cut the Rutgers lead to 82-81 with a 3-pointer with 1:14 left, but Mack answered with another clutch 3-pointer to put Rutgers back ahead 85-81 with 56 seconds remaining.
Walker hit a runner to cut the Rutgers lead to 85-83, but Rutgers held on to knock off its seventh top-10 team in program history. It was Rutgers' best win over a non-conference opponent since beating No. 8 UCLA on Dec. 3, 1981.
“This is what happens when you believe,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. “This is what happens when you don't think impossible is impossible.”
Carter, a freshman, scored a career-high 31 points. Mack added 14 points off the bench.
Beal added 15 points for Florida, but had seven of UF's 18 turnovers. Murphy had 14 points, and Young had 11 points and 6 rebounds.
The Gators had just 14 assists to 18 turnovers and weren't much better on defense, allowing Rutgers to shoot 48.6 percent from the floor.
“We weren't utilizing each other on offense the way that we need to,” Donovan said.
Florida played well out of the gate, jumping to a quick 10-2 lead. Murphy scored eight of UF's first 10 points.
“We were moving the ball around like a hot potato,” Young said. “Everyone was getting touches.”
But the rest of the half didn't go as well for the Gators. Rutgers kept coming back, cutting Florida's lead to 32-30 with 29 seconds left in the first half on a Dane Miller jumper. Walker hit a runner with three seconds left to put Florida up 34-30 at halftime.
It was a rough homecoming for UF junior guard Mike Rosario, a Rutgers transfer who was booed every time he touched the ball. He finished with 5 points and one turnover in 14 minutes, going 2 of 6 from the floor.
Rosario returned to the lineup after missing his previous two games with back spasms.
“I felt bad for Mike,” Donovan said. “I knew there were going to be some people in the crowd that were there that weren't wishing for his happiness. It was a tough situation for him.”
FREE THROWS: Florida finished 9 for 27 (33.3 percent) from 3-point range, just the third time in 13 games the Gators had less than 10 3-pointers in a game. … The Gators played without sophomore forward Casey Prather, who did not make the trip due to flu-like symptoms.
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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