Gators fall in OT to Georgia

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Florida guard Mike Okauru drives for the basket during first-half action against Georgia on Wednesday at the O'Connell Center. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun.]

Florida’s mystifying season of inconsistency continued Wednesday night at the O’Connell Center.

The Gators were done in by another second-half collapse in a 72-69 overtime loss that broke more than a few hearts on Valentine’s Day.

There was no magic this time from senior point guard Chris Chiozza, whose last gasp 3-point attempt to tie the game at the buzzer and force a second overtime clanged off the iron as time expired.

Florida (17-9, 8-5 SEC), which had won back-to-back games, suffered its fifth home loss of the season. But it was how the Gators self-destructed down the stretch that was most perplexing. Florida let an 11-point lead slip away in the final 10:05 and blew a seven-point lead in the final 1:23.

“That’s about as tough an ending to a game as I’ve experienced,” Florida coach Mike White said.

The most critical mistake, junior guard Jalen Hudson being called for a travel on an in-bounds play with Florida up 59-56 and 13.6 seconds left. That allowed Georgia a chance for a game-tying shot, and Yante Maten delivered with a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

“We’ve struggled getting the ball in bounds all year against pressure,” White said. “This team lacks physicality as we’ve talked about. We’re in a one-on-one situation with one of their perimeter guys. If we get the ball in bounds to one of our two 90-percent shooters, the game is over … an absolute lack of discipline that’s on me.”

As for Maten getting an open look to tie the game and send it into overtime.

“Lack of communication, which is what we’ve struggled with all year,” White said. “Tonight’s game was an example of who we are. There are some great teams in college basketball and a handful of good teams that are great certain nights and very average other nights, and that’s who we are, because of those areas, focus, communication, lack of communication, lack of physicality.”

In overtime, Florida missed 5 of its first 6 free throw attempts, including two straight by Chiozza, an 87.3 percent free throw shooter. The empty trips allowed Georgia to build a 66-60 lead in overtime on an inside layup by Maten, dunk by Derek Ogbeide and a 3-pointer from Tyree Crump. The six-point overtime lead was too much for UF to overcome.

Led by 23 points and 10 rebounds from Maten, Georgia (14-11, 5-8 SEC) snapped a three-game losing streak and 14-game losing streak at the O’Connell Center, winning its first game at UF since 2002. The Bulldogs swept the regular-season series for the first time since 1996-97.

Florida went close to eight minutes without a basket in the second half, allowing a 50-39 lead to whittle to 51-50 on an Ogbeide inside dunk with 3:33 left. The Gators were caught in a number of late shot situations in scoring just one point during a 7:29 stretch. Junior center Kevarrius Hayes was called for a pair of offensive fouls while redshirt freshman forward Dontay Bassett got called for basket interference on a putback attempt.

“They get into a great rhythm scoring in the block after making us defend for long periods and I was at a point where we needed to slow it down,” White said. “I was in fear we take a quick one and miss it, it’s going to be another Yante Maten layup, another Ogbeide layup, another Ogbeide putback. I thought we played tired in the second half offensively. I think Georgia had a lot to do that. It was our goal to make them guard a little bit as well.

“Again, I thought we had some stuff in the paint after we made them guard for certain lengths in the second half to where we just didn’t finish or get to the foul line.”

Forward Egor Koulechov appeared to save the day, converting a three-point play to put Florida up 54-50 with 2:36 left and a 3-pointer to give UF a 57-50 edge with 1:23 left, but Crump hit a 3-pointer to cut UF’s lead to 57-53, then Maten hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs within 59-56.

Koulechov and junior guard KeVaughn Allen led Florida with 19 points apiece. Freshman guard Mike Okauru added 14 points off the bench.

“This is probably the toughest loss that we’ve had all year because we felt like we were getting in a groove,” Koulechov said. “We’ve got to go back to the lab now and get the groove back again. That’s all we can do.”

Chiozza struggled, going 2 of 14 from the field and finishing with 5 points. Hudson, UF’s leading scorer at 15.7 points per game, went scoreless

“That’s not Chris Chiozza,” White said. “He wasn’t the only guy.”

Florida struggled from the field early, making 7 of its first 25 shots. But the Gators were able to sustain the defensive intensity they showed in clamping down South Carolina last Saturday.

After a Juwan Parker jumper put Georgia up 18-15, the Gators held Georgia scoreless for a 5:02 stretch during a 9-0 run. Allen’s first 3-pointer of the game tied the score at 18, while a transition layup by Stone off a steal from Koulechov put Florida up 22-18.

Florida then extended its lead to 24-18 on a pair of Stone free throws, but Georgia rallied, cutting UF’s lead to 24-23 on a three-point play from freshman forward Rayshaun Hammonds. Okauru, who provided another nice left off the bench with 9 points in the first half, sank a corner 3-pointer to put UF back up 27-23.

Allen was able to continue his strong play off the bench, finding sophomore center Gorjok Gak for an inside layup to put Florida up 29-25. Allen then made a pair of free throws after taking a hard foul along the sidelines, and made another 3-pointer to give Florida its biggest lead of the half, 34-25. The Gators took a 34-27 into halftime, overcoming shooting 32.3 percent from the field by limiting Georgia’s field goal percentage to 34.8 percent.

Florida dealt with foul trouble throughout the first half. Chiozza, junior center Kevarrius Hayes, redshirt freshman forward Dontay Bassett and Hudson each picked up two first-half fouls. By attacking the Gators inside throughout the half, Georgia got to the free throw line 14 times in the first half and drew 11 UF fouls.

GEORGIA 72, FLORIDA 69, OT
GEORGIA (14-11)

Maten 8-17 5-6 23, Claxton 1-1 0-0 2, Hammonds 3-8 4-5 10, Parker 3-11 4-5 10, Jackson 1-2 0-0 3, Ogbeide 5-7 0-3 10, Edwards 0-1 0-0 0, Diatta 0-3 1-3 1, Crump 3-7 4-5 13, Hightower 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 18-27 72.

FLORIDA (17-9)

Stone 2-7 3-4 7, Hayes 1-2 1-4 3, Chiozza 2-15 0-2 5, Hudson 0-3 0-2 0, Koulechov 5-8 6-7 19, Bassett 0-0 0-0 0, Gak 1-2 0-0 2, Allen 6-14 4-4 19, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0, Okauru 5-6 2-4 14. Totals 22-59 16-27 69.

Halftime_Florida 34-27. End Of Regulation_Tied 59. 3-Point Goals_Georgia 6-18 (Crump 3-7, Maten 2-3, Jackson 1-2, Hammonds 0-1, Parker 0-2, Diatta 0-3), Florida 9-23 (Allen 3-5, Koulechov 3-5, Okauru 2-3, Chiozza 1-4, Ballard 0-1, Hudson 0-2, Stone 0-3). Fouled Out_Hudson. Rebounds_Georgia 42 (Ogbeide, Maten 10), Florida 33 (Hayes 7). Assists_Georgia 9 (Crump 5), Florida 10 (Chiozza 5). Total Fouls_Georgia 22, Florida 24. A_9,497 (10,133).

54 COMMENTS

  1. This team just baffles the mind in it’s constant slow-down offense. They have yet to show any ability to turn the offense back on when they need to. I really disliked them even doing it with a 20 point lead on Sat. I just don’t get it. Even with Chiozza and Hudson not having very good games, they should’ve won this game going away.

    • I agree. That’s my main problem with it, then we go cold and the offense gets stagnant. Hudson and Chiozza played poorly…turned down looks to only let the clock go down and throw up contested drives. I don’t understand why guys don’t pull up mid range, but I digress. Where I draw the line is firing a guy like some of these cats are calling for. They don’t say a damn thing until we lose…then asshats like bf and Mikey who predict losses every game talk their crap after one season of ups and downs following an Elite 8 appearance, and a year with major injuries to boot…especially considering this year in college hoops has been bizarre. Arizona St started out as world beaters and have retreated. Kansas has several baffling losses…some at home. The Big 10 has maybe 3-4 teams worth anything. UNC has 7 losses. Oklahoma now has 7 losses. Even if we don’t get in the tourney…I will not call for the firing of a guy who took over a 16-17 program, and made it to the elite 8 in year 2. That’s ridiculous.

      • Okauro is balling with confidence. He needs more minutes. Talent recognition came slowly from this coach about his roster talent. Hayes is responsible for his like of inside presence. He had a year to develop but didn’t work on his game off season. Lack of direction from the coach. Players are hesitant and lack aggression at critical times. Heart your are born with. Physicality is a self motivating thing. The Gators have neither.

  2. It’s time we blame Mike white. His substitutions stink. The right combinations are rarely implemented. Gators will lose in the first round in both tournaments. They are legitimately fifth in the SEC. Disappointing team.

  3. If you looked up the phrase “jekyl and hyde” you would see a picture of this gators team! INCONSISTENT! to me they have no drive to play at a high level,no killer instinct.when you have a big lead,you go for the jugular and finish them off! very dissapointed in this team.

  4. This one is on the coach. Terrible coaching job. He let a lead slip away and did nothing to stop the bleeding. Toward the end of the game while we still had the lead he should have put 4 guards in the game and told them to drive to the basket every time. Then, at the end of the game he has no plan to get the ball in. MW is nothing special. The more I see of his coaching inability the less I like. He needs to go. I wanted Jay Wright from Villanova. They should still hire him.

  5. Eighth loss this season by White as a favorite. Fifth loss at home. Of teams who have been in the top 25 for most of the season, no other coach is even close to the above numbers! How long will it take the AD to realize that White is a fake coach? This s o b is signed through 2023! The Gators are f••••d big time with this pr••k! Maybe White will take his smelly a•• to Ole Miss!

  6. Outrebounded again, and another home loss. 5 games remaining before the SEC Tournament, after tonight’s performance, I see maybe one more win, 4 losses. Should still get in the dance at say a 10-12 seed, but all too easy a one and done pick. Easily the most inconsistent/frustrating team in the country.

    • I can’t stomach to watch them anymore, follow them occasionally for game updates on Yahoo app, possible win Saturday at Vandy, but less than a 5% chance to win at TN, at Bama, KY and Auburn, just no consistency, heart or toughness.

    • Billy Donovan was unable to recruit KY/Duke type talent following back-to-back NCs, what makes anyone think Mike White can bring in any better recruits? Florida will always be a football school, White is about as good as Florida can expect to hire, Gator fans will have to hope he can develop 3 star recruits and bring in the occasional grad transfer. Marvin Bagleys will never land in Gainesville.

      • Yep….his recruiting fell off. Only Brad Beal lived up to THAT type of hype. He was 16-17 in his last season…people act like White came in in 2008 after winning the chip. I thought he had figured out to get more 3-4 year guys to develop by sprinkling in a few McDonald All American types…to combat UK…and it was working, but his last McDonald All-American, Kasey Hill, did not translate. The 2006-07 teams had 1 McDonald All American, Corey Brewer, who stayed 3 years. The 2013-14 team had one…Patrick Young. Michael Frazier left too soon due to Donovan leaving…and we really haven’t had that big name since. Mike White to me had the right formula in developing guys and got to the Elite 8, so that he could possibly be more attractive in the future. bf Dummy Buckets doesn’t know shyt…he just spots stats like a nerd that played zero ball. Psst…Some of us were Gators before Moten & Maxwell…that’s his so called claim to fame.

  7. Quit buying tickets to see these losers. Stay away from the O’Connell Center. Dwindling attendance catches attention. Certainly the three recruits have been watching Florida games and I wonder why in hell they would want to play for White.

  8. Calipari has 4 NBA 1st rounders and is in pretty much in the same spot as UF… Coaches now let the kids play YMCA pickup ball, 24\7, because in spite of common sense, they all think they’re Steph Curry\Tristain Thompson finished products when they’re juniors in HS (deviate from that path and you can’t recruit… so MW would tell you). When the other side turns up the D a little (2nd half}, the easy looks disappear and it all comes down to crummy Js (if those go down, they happen to look like world beaters like the Stanford game… if not, you lose to UGA twice per season).

    UF can’t defend the perimeter, can’t handle anything involving a pass to a man moving to the hoop in the lane, and don’t have anything offensively sans TO fast breaks and stationary jumpers, which is s h & t playground basketball, which is Mike White’s fault 100%.

  9. The Gators tease you into thinking they’ve got it won and then blow it again. Gotta be bad for the seniors who hoped to go out on top, but are stymied by lackluster coaching. They are facing a couple of top teams next and the stars might align for them to pull one win out of their pants, but it’s doubtful.
    I hate to see them lose at home – it should never happen. UF made a big dollar commitment to overhaul the O’Connell Center. The team needs to catch up and act like they deserve their new digs. For me the season is over, and for them a slow ride into obscurity…….Buh bye.

  10. Can’t watch this team anymore. Just can’t, it’s like Charlie Brown and the football, except, unlike Charlie, you could see it coming. When GA started to whittle at the double-digit lead in the second half, UF began standing around again, on offense and defense. Taking the shot clock down with little ball or player movement, to where there’s no time left for a good shot, not guarding the 3-point line late in the game, etc. No heart or toughness. That Chiozza scored 5 and Hudson(he was AWOL last night) score ZERO is mind-boggling.
    Glad it’s baseball and softball season, and can’t wait for spring football.

    • That’s why we lost…miserable free throw shooting and our 2 best players played poorly. While frustrating, admittedly with this hot & cold team, I aint jumping off the cliff or cosigning with bums like bf and Mikey.

  11. It is very easy to jump on a coach. Sort of like jumping on the manager at the pro baseball level. As Casey Stengel once said, “I couldn’t do it without my players.” Right now there aren’t any Gators who have the quickness to get to the hoop except for Chiozza and Okauro. When Allen gets the ball at the top of the key, he hesitates to drive and looks for someone else to take a shot. When anyone does go to the basket, his teammates watch as three defenders converge, most of the time not moving to get rebounds or get open for easy shots. The greatness of Horford, Noah and Brewer was their cooperation. If one drove, the others positioned themselves for easy second shots or open 3’s in the corner or rebounds. Teamwork is hard to teach to guys who are not either BB smart or experienced enough. It’s hard to find 5th year guys like Barry or Koulechov who have learned how to play. Talent such as Hudson, Stone and Ballard has is not enough and it takes a while for a coach to teach it. And how can anyone blame White for not having a center?

    • Unless Egbunu is able to come back, which I doubt, we won’t have a center until maybe ’19/20 season. Now you tell me, who in the hxxx are you going to beat with seven guards. Since like you say Stone and Ballard have very little talent. That’s the situation your beloved coach White has this team. I would think that when you are paying some one 2.5 mill, you would expect better results.

  12. Deflate the ball, deflate the team. !! point lead dissipated in a flash, that’s with the coach, there is no need to slow down, You should never give the other team a chance to even think they can catch up.
    Out-rebounded, out-hustled and out-coached. 5 losses at home to teams we are favored to beat that’s inexcusable. Coach White, your Alma Mater is calling, PLEASE answer!

  13. I was never a fan of the Mike White hire, still not, BUT…

    The officials stole this game from us last night. Yeah, I know, a few more FT’s and we would have won, or UGA had only 2 less PF’s than UF did.

    The point is, when I watched officials repeatedly swallow their whistles on critical UF possessions and whistle the Gators for so much as bumping into an UGA player, it’s WHEN you whistle the PF’s, on critical plays, that result in points or the loss of a possession that could result in valuable points.

    It was absolutely atrocious watching this total and utter officiating incompetence unfold last night. One possession they allowed UGA to outright TRIP our ball handler, no whistle, and then call that same UF player for what was a phantom call on the other end of the court.

    It was OUR home floor too. We can’t even get the benefit of the doubt on our own court?! The ONLY REASON this game went into OT in the first place was because of the officials.

    I have said it for years and frmly believe as officiating gets more and more ludicrous that the game of basketball on the college and pro levels is fixed.

    • I watched the full game last night, Granted there were some iffy calls. But that was not the problem. their bigs specially Maten scored at will just about any time they got the ball. And Jesus, how many offensive rebounds they got for second chance points? and it seemed we allowed them to get just about every loose ball there was. So please don’t blame the umpires. Blame coach White, there was no reason to think this game was on hand, when we were up 11.. You just don’t turn the intensity game switch at will. Once he deflated the team’s intensity that was the game. Maybe you can do that at LA tech but not here.

    • I watched the full game last night, Granted there were some iffy calls. But that was not the problem. their bigs specially Maten scored at will just about any time they got the ball. And Jesus, how many offensive rebounds they got for second chance points? and it seemed we allowed them to get just about every loose ball there was. So please don’t blame the umpires. Blame coach White, there was no reason to think this game was on hand, when we were up 11.. You just don’t turn the intensity game switch at will. Once he deflated the team’s intensity that was the game. Maybe you can do that at LA tech but not here.

  14. But I posted before I was finished. I was goingto also agree with a number of the other posters here about Mike White.

    I said a few years ago when we hired him that you don’t hire coaches from LA. Tech to replace a double NC coach like Billy Donovan. There comes a time when White is going to have to get his act together and get this team on an even keel. I understand our inside game is almost non-existant with our main bigs out, but there comes a time when then that excuse grows old.

    Sadly, it’s going to take another year of this to finally usher White out.

  15. I like Coach White and I agree with his assessment on this team, however with that statement about physicality and toughness that reflects upon him as a coach. Chizzoa is a good point guard but he is a scrappy shooter not a pure shooter. He has had the ball in his hands to many times this year where critical shots are needed and he should not be the one taking that shot. Hudson Struggled last night and he is the life of this team. Without Egbunu our Defense just is atrocious at times. rebounding is a huge problem and will continue to be. Sadly we may lose a few more before this year ends and with this type of shooting team we shouldn’t be anywhere close to .500. these are the breaks or the lack of and we just need to take our medicine and make sure this program doesn’t continue to spiral down next year. GO GATORS

  16. If coach White would stop all of the shooting outside especially when cold. Hayes has potential for a nice inside game but coach won’t nurture it. Live and die by the 3. SMH come on coach. Go inside to both big smalls also, SMMH !!

  17. Look at Lunardi’s (ESPN) bracketology updated today! I like Lunardi and suspect that he’s as good as anybody out there predicting the brackets. However, he must be suffering from Gator Man Crush
    Syndrome because, even after last night’s debacle, he has Florida a 6-seed. What?!! Ninety percent of us posting here know that seed is ridiculous. I did check and Lunardi did not go to college in Gainesville.

  18. For those of you that think losing games when favored is not important or of little significance, give me the names of any Div. 1 coach and I’ll tell you the number of games he’s lost as a favorite. You should realize pretty quickly that Florida is stuck with a huge mistake and vastly inferior coach. What do think the following means? Mississippi’s State’s Ben Howland hasn’t lost ANY games this season as a favorite! As mentioned, ad nauseum, Miss White will finish this season with about TWELVE!

  19. Lack of physicality and lack of communication! Wow coach, what’s your responsibility in all this?
    Kind of reminds me of a former coach we just got rid of. How about taking some responsibility yourself!
    Your the leader of this organization, act like it!