Second-half collapse seals Gators’ fate vs. Gamecocks

Florida forward Keyontae Johnson and South Carolina forward Maik Kotsar (on floor) fight for possession of the ball in the first half Saturday at Exatech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

South Carolina executed a play for the ages Saturday night in Exactech Arena, but not without a huge assist from Florida.

It was a stunning end to a game the Gators needed to win, Chris Silva scoring on a dunk with 2.5 seconds to go after receiving a long pass from reserve Felipe Haase, who wasn’t supposed to be throwing the baseball pass in the first place.

Wait, it gets even weirder.

Florida decided to switch defenses after Kevarrius Hayes tied the game by making one of two free throws, going to a man-to-man press.

“We were supposed to have someone on the ball (defensively),” said Florida coach Mike White. “We had a couple of guys running around at our three-point line wondering who they were supposed to match up with.”

As a result, Haase had a clear shot, threw a perfect pass to Silva, who had sealed off Hayes near the opposite foul line. Hayes and Florida’s Keyontae Johnson both fell to the court and Silva went to the basket for an easy dunk and what turned out to be a 71-69 victory.

Florida inbounded the ball but a long pass went over the UF offense and South Carolina had an improbable win. And Florida a damaging loss.

It was the first time in seven years Florida lost its conference opener.

“I’m not stunned, I’m disappointed,” White said. “We didn’t have a lot of maturity this week. We didn’t do much right.”

On four different occasions, Florida led by double digits, but each time South Carolina (6-7, 1-0 SEC) fought back. They were led by Silva, who was scoreless in the first half but had 18 points in the game, and reserve guard Hassani Gravett, who had 22 points and made 4-of-7 three-pointers.

Florida led for most of the game thanks to forcing 22 South Carolina turnovers. But South Carolina rallied from 14 down to take the lead on a Silva layup.

Dontay Bassett made a pair of free throws to give Florida a 68-67 lead before Silva put the Gamecocks back in front on two free throws.

Florida got a big steal from Johnson to set up a final shot, but on a scramble play Hayes was fouled in the lane. He made one of two with 3.5 seconds to go, setting up the final play.

Maik Kotsar was supposed to throw the pass in, but told South Carolina coach Frank Martin in the huddle his shoulder was sore. So Haase was inserted to heave it down the court.

“The pass was unbelievable,” White said.

The play was called “home run” and was set up to either go deep or find someone open near the foul line.

“We tried it earlier in the year in November and it was an embarrassment,” Martin said.

The game was a foul festival with the two teams combining for 48 fouls and 45 free throws.

“Every game I’ve played against Mike White has been an absolute street fight,” Martin said. “Because his guys don’t get out of the way and our guys don’t get out of the way.”

Freshman guard Noah Locke led Florida with 17 points, but missed 10 3-point shots after a hot start.

“We’ve just gotta get better mentally,” Locke said.

The loss came after Florida’s best game of the season a week ago against Butler. But Florida (8-5, 0-1) reverted to form with its upperclassmen struggling with consistency (starting forward Keith Stone has no points, Jalen Hudson was 1-for-5 on 3s and KeVaughn Allen only took six shots).

Florida freshman guard Andrew Nembhard had 10 points and seven assists.

“It’s tough to swallow,” he said. “We didn’t do out jobs today. We definitely should have won that game.”

Florida next plays its first true road game since the first game of the season when the Gators travel to Arkansas for a Wednesday 8:30 p.m game.



Silva 5-6 8-9 18, Bryant 4-8 0-0 8, Kotsar 1-4 2-6 4, Campbell 2-8 0-0 6, Lawson 2-8 1-1 6, Frink 0-0 0-0 0, Haase 1-3 3-4 5, Gravett 7-11 4-5 22, Hinson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 23-51 18-25 71.


Stone 0-2 0-0 0, Hayes 1-1 1-2 3, Nembhard 3-10 4-4 10, Allen 4-6 0-0 10, Locke 5-16 2-2 17, Bassett 2-3 2-4 6, K.Johnson 0-6 1-2 1, Stokes 3-5 0-0 6, Okauru 0-1 0-0 0, Ballard 3-3 1-2 8, Hudson 2-8 3-4 8. Totals 23-61 14-20 69.

Halftime_Florida 36-32. 3-Point Goals_South Carolina 7-18 (Gravett 4-7, Campbell 2-5, Lawson 1-4, Haase 0-1, Hinson 0-1), Florida 9-31 (Locke 5-15, Allen 2-2, Ballard 1-1, Hudson 1-5, Stone 0-1, Bassett 0-1, K.Johnson 0-1, Nembhard 0-5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_South Carolina 32 (Kotsar 7), Florida 30 (K.Johnson 6). Assists_South Carolina 10 (Campbell 4), Florida 12 (Nembhard 7). Total Fouls_South Carolina 23, Florida 25.


  1. What garbage…bad officiating but with 22+ turnovers we should have never been that close. What I see is no player development and horrible play on the offense side of the ball. I’ve said this before not really impressed with CMW since he’s been here. When you look as bad as we have it boils down to coaching. Hudson and Allen have both taken steps back from last year and do we even run any kind of offensive plays other than drive and kick out for a three. This team will be lucky to make it to the NIT can’t even win against the bottom of the SEC and at home what a joke. Very disappointed!!!

  2. Gators fold down the stretch to 5-7 SC, half of their shots were from 3, with no inside offense, a pretty typical Gator finish, no post season tournament for this team, will probably lose every road game in the conference.

  3. I think honestly,this team has absolutely NO clue as to who they are or who they want to be. coach White looks like a guy who is trying to shoo a hundred loose chickens back into their pen! absolutely chaotic!

  4. Most likely an old story to most of us is our lack of an inside presence which is killing us on offense and unfortunately absolutely no adjustments to counter this by Coach White except play better defense which is fine but the main problem is our inside offense as we basically have none. We did play poor defense against SC’s bigs tonight also but usually our defense is very good. We have to play two our our bigger guys at the same time for parts of the game. Would love to know the reasoning for not making this adjustment. This will get really ugly when we play TN + KY on the road with almost no inside game.

  5. Mike White will not ever argue with an official. The intentional foul at the end of the game was reversed because Frank Martin raised hell. The push by Silva on the full court pass was NOT called because The refs knew they could make the call and White says nothing. Sad! Going to be a rough year.

    • Exactly! Frank Martin is as combative and verbally abusive as they come. The refs were horrific. The hook and hold reversal was a joke clearly how gutless and intimidated they were by Martin. Which is why they didn’t call a number of fouls toward the end. Hayes was pushed from behind by Silva on the deciding basket. But this is a familiar story of Gator teams tanking in the last 10 minutes of game.

  6. I said last week 15-16. Oops, Looks like 10-21 is probably more realistic. Frank Martin has Mike White’s number and nothing Coach White can do about it. Martin owns us. The real beat down will start with Arkansas and then a complete blowout (see GA today) to Tennessee. Going to be a long, long season for Gator basketball. Cant we send Hayes packing and dress Lucas Krull or Stephens or one of the tight ends? Anybody but KH. Maybe we can play the Carolina 4 corners offense with the shot clock and only lose 35-20. I know I sound like a jerk but dam disappointed in this teams effort and White’s coaching. I think he tries to be too nice. Rip the teams A-S apart in practice. Donovan took away their Gator gear to get their attention. Light a fire White! South Dakota Gator

  7. Good lord, how long has it been since the Gators have had an even mediocre big man? While everyone else in the country has one to three quality big men. Feels like I felt after Kentucky and Missouri in football but I fear there will be no great comeback in basketball.

  8. Once again our O looks disorganized, its a run and gun and with zero inside game, we are nothing more than a run and gun team mixed with a putrid half court game of long ball. When you can’t beat a lowly USCE team, we will be bottom feeders in the SEC. Things will get worse, much worse, as in lop sides scores. MW is over his head coaching in the big league. How can you explain drawing up a play where a guard drives and dishes it to Hayes who has hands of bricks. This team is not even NIT worthy imo. Truthfully, it’s painful to watch and I’ll use my time for better things than watching this mess. Next year will be no different, without a competent inside game it’s bombs away. What a mess…

  9. White gets out coached by Martin again. Mike White’s team was not prepared for the South Carolina press and had no idea to attack it. White’s poor coaching is being exposed with the loss of long time assistant Dusty May whom is actually winning at FAU. White is clueless! Allen, Hayes, Stone, and Hudson whom are entering at least their 3rd year in the program have demonstrated very little developed and have regressed in sone cases such as Hudson. The Gators stand around on offense and do not to initiate an offense until about 10 seconds left on the shot clock, which leads to bad shots. Not scoring a field goal the last 7 minutes of the games against a poor team like South Carolina is not acceptable. Pat Dooley usually gets all over the Gator Football team when they play bad, but lets the basketball team and Coach White for poor play.

  10. Why waste the scholarship on a bucket boy; should have put out that a it was available to anybody over 6’10’ and any playing ability. Why have small forwards trying to play inside and stokes is no way near as good as the hype he received. Get a DT to play inside. Also who does silva pay to get all the breaks he gets on no calls.

  11. What a bunch of BS being posted about this game. Florida was not outplayed. They were not outcoached. Florida does not stink. The refs did not cost Florida the game. Florida simply shot the ball poorly against a decent team. White is a very good coach. You shoot poorly against a good to decent team, which SC is, you lose. Period. Way too many open shots missed down the stretch, including free throws. Those of you saying White is a bad coach are clueless. He cannot shoot for the team or make critical free throws for the team. But Stokes is a block of cement in the middle with very little agility and jumping ability. I wish Gak could play and help out in the middle. But this team will get better because White is a very good coach. But the players have to start hitting wide open shots with a lot more consistency than they did in this game.

    • There is no way a well-coached basketball team would ever allow SCs primary scorer Silva to get behind every Gator player on the court with 3.5 sec. left in the game. In middle school I was taught that you ALWAYS stay between the offensive player and the basket in that situation – Silva should have never been in that position to score PERIOD!! As someone else posted – for the Gators to have had a final play where the intent is to pass the ball the Hayes in the paint for the final shot is insane – he has proven that he absolutely can’t catch a ball with his brick hands in the lane AND can’t make free throws. We constantly talk about how the Gator football team hasn’t had a QB since Tebow – well tell me when MW has recruited any big man that is even a 1/10th of Horford or Noah. You can’t succeed in the SEC with no legitimate big man and a bunch of players that are scared to drive to the basket. Watching a bunch of guards run around and take 3s all night infuriates me – and that is what I have been watching ever since MW got here. It’s a big problem and every year its exactly the same issues – over and over and over. He keeps building teams made up of shooting guards – that’s simply not going to get it done.

    • Swampy: you are watching this team play through the proverbial rose colored glasses. They stink, they have no inside presence and while I am not saying White is a bad coach, he did not make adjustments in the second half to keep a lead that blossomed to 14 points. Our comments don’t make us bad Gator fans, but realistic ones. You, my friend can’t see the forest through the trees.

      • RSGATOR. The Florida players could not see the basket through the trees last night, and the trees were not even in there view. But go ahead, attack and blame one of the best young coaches in the country for the poor shooting last night. And Hayes would have easily jumped up and knocked that ball away or caught it if Silva had not shoved him in the back and got away with the clear foul on the winning basket. But I am sure that was White’s fault as well. Florida, under White, has been achieving every single year and he has rebuild this team that was almost talent zero when he took over. And take a look everyone at the recruiting class coming in, which includes a very good big man. And Stokes was a very highly recruited big man. But no doubt it is White’s fault that he hurt his knee which has limited his effectiveness on the court so far. And Gak as well I am sure White caused Gak to injury his knee as well. No, RS, I am watching White and this team long term, and White is building a strong, long-term basketball program. If the team hit its open shots and late free throws last night, none of this negative conversation would be going on. We would all be looking forward to another SEC win with positivity instead of negativity. But hell, fire White and go hire the current Georgia coach. Just my opened-eyed and sensible colored glasses. Sorry.

        • Swampy, you mentioned Silva pushing Hayes in the back on the game winning dunk, but he did it again on the ensuing inbounds pass. Hayes wasn’t able to get a hand on the ball because of the push. Silva also scored in the post on a move where he clearly hooked Bassett right in front of an official. Those no-calls, plus the inexplicable reduction of the hook-and-hold to a common foul, greatly hurt the Gators chances. Still, Silva should’ve been sandwiched by defenders on that play, so that even when he caught the pass, there should’ve been someone between him and the basket. An overall lack of intelligent play down the stretch, including little offensive movement, doomed the Gators to defeat in a game they needed badly.

          • Joe. Silva shoved his way behind the Florida players and then shoved them forward to get the ball. He committed to offensive fouls in order to score and did it right in front of the ref. And, yes, he hooked and scored all night long and the refs let him do it all night long and often called fouls on the Florida centers when he did it. Was the game being played in Columbia? Seemed so from watching the refs not make calls on the Cocks all night long. White got frustrated repeatedly with the refs, and I am sure he had a conversation with the SEC office today or will Monday concerning the officiating.

          • Agreed. It did look as if SC got some “home cooking” from the refs even though they were the visitors. Martin’s teams always play aggressive, physical defense, and I think they get away with more contact, because they have that reputation of being physical. They get away with it, because the officials’ see the contact as just what they do. On the other hand, the same contact SC gets away with is whistled as a foul on a team that doesn’t have that physical reputation, because it seems “out of character” for them.

            Regardless, as Dooley always says, you have to play around the officials’ bad calls. Sometimes it’s very difficult to do, and this time, for this group of offensively challenged Gators, it was impossible.

  12. Gonna be a long year. No bigs, and no development of bigs we have. Worst bigs in SEC by a substantial margin.

    Offense is playground garbage. Has been since White arrived. Live by the 3PT die by the 3PT.

    This year’s signing class has probably bought him two years. SEC record this year gonna be scary bad IMO.

    I really though this team would come around. Lost all confidence last night. That was beyond bad performance against a poor Lamecock team.

  13. I agree about the lack of Bigs! Why can we seemingly not sucessfully recruit a big guy to bang the boards with other physical teams? We need at least 2 so that foul problems will not plague us.
    For Gosh sakes ! coach some mechanicals is free throw shooting. Is all we can send to the line are 61%’ers? They can’t make the basket in the clutch, do we even have a decent dependable from the charity stripe? Appears not.
    Thirdly to let Silva behind defenders for that long pass ? Start realizing if anything can go wrong with this team ….it probably will…..

  14. ”The Gators find themselves still trying to figure things out offensively and working through different combinations on the floor. They’ve run out of time.” article BEFORE the Carolina game.
    Now the pressures really on the coaches and the team to prove they can ”find the right combination.”
    And while they’re at it, please find a new attitude. One like Coach Spurrier taught us Gators back in the 1990’s, learn how to step on your oppenent’s throat and don’t let ’em up ’till the game’s over.

  15. We didn’t play our game, we should have played harder and smarter, we need to play with more energy, we have to get it together, we have the talent, we have to play for 40 minutes, we were suppose to have people in place on the floor, we can shoot the ball great it just wasn’t our night! When will all these lame excuses end and this team decides it takes effort in practice and on the floor during a game. Didn’t I read where White said he could see this coming all week. Well here is an idea to get the teams attention. Kick the team out of the gym and hold practice from 2:00 am to 4:00 am. Maybe they will get the message. Everyone says your team is a reflection of your coaches personality. One word…SOFT!

  16. I am still baffled how our school with it’s great facilities, great fan base, and a winning tradition can not recruit at least one guy 6-09 or taller who can consistently score in the paint. That falls in the head coach, who might be better suited for a job in a lesser conference. As far as the SEC. goes, we are falling behind many of the other teams when it comes to recruiting.