Missouri pulls out 72-70 win over Florida
Florida had chances late and would tie the game in the closing seconds but each time the Tigers answered with a bucket of their own to withstand UF’s rally, including a game-winner in the final second from Dru Smith to give Missouri a 72-70 win Wednesday night at the Exactech Arena.
“Credit those guys, they executed better than we did down the stretch, both offensively and defensively,” UF coach Mike White said. “I thought we had a great fight to us, especially in the last 10-or-12 minutes, to have a real chance. Just couldn’t get it quite done.”
Who: Florida at Tennessee
When: Noon Sunday
Sophomore point guard Tre Mann provided a game-high 21 points, his second consecutive game of 20 points or more, while Tyree Appleby added 12 points but the Gators couldn’t emerge victorious in the final home game of their regular season.
UF jumped out to a 7-0 lead but the Tigers came roaring back, taking a 10-.9 lead right before the under-16 timeout.
The teams would trade leads several times before Missouri closed the half on a 18-6 run over the final 9:37 before halftime to take a seven-point lead at the midpoint.
In the final minute before the break, UF forward Anthony Duruji was whistled for a foul on Mark Smith, who absorbed the contact and fell hard to the floor.
Officials reviewed the play and decided Duruji’s contact was unnecessary, and the call was changed to a flagrant foul, allowing Duruji to remain in the game yet giving the Tigers free throws that proved to be critical to the end result.
Down but undeterred, the Gators rallied repeatedly in the second half, at multiple points cutting the Tigers’ lead to a lone point, but UF couldn’t overcome the hurdle until the final minute. Florida trailed by as many as eight with 2:20 to play but would cut the lead to one-possession with 47.6 seconds remaining on Appleby’s free throws.
Florida would utilize the full-court press, trying to force a turnover, and they’d get one on a shot-clock violation. Colin Castleton would tie the game on a pair of free throws with 19.2 seconds remaining before Smith’s game-winning lay-up with .7 seconds remaining on the clock gave the Tigers the victory in dramatic fashion.
The Gators will look to rebound Sunday on the road when they travel to Tennessee for a 12 p.m. tip-off in Knoxville in the regular-season finale.
What we learned
Tre Mann’s performance indicated why his days in his hometown may be numbered.
The sophomore point guard scored 20-plus points once again, finishing with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting to lead all scorers Wednesday night in Florida’s final home game of the 2020-21 season.
Mann, who came into the year looking to bounce back from a disappointing freshman season following high expectations, was superb aside from four turnovers, two of which came in the opening minutes of the game.
“Tre played with great activity,” White said. “And then he scored some big baskets, of course. He went 9-of-11 against a team that’s terrific defensive program, a team that’s not too far in the past was ranked in the top-10. Tre did some really good things.”
Must ignore officiating decisions
Anthony Duruji couldn’t avoid the contact on Mark Smith, nor could he avoid the ensuing flagrant foul, while Colin Castleton clearly shouted “and-1” after a no-call, somehow resulting in a swift technical foul from the official.
In the one-possession loss, the calls were undoubtedly costly when it came to Florida’s chances of securing the victory over Missouri.
Yet if there’s anything UF coach Mike White didn’t want his team to do, it was to take up the responsibility of protesting to the officiating crew.
“I told our guys, we spent half the game talking to the officials. With this group, I love our enthusiasm the last couple of days, but we’re giving out technical fouls in practice just because emotions are all over the place,” White said. “We’ve got to mature. We’ve got to play with emotion, but we can’t be emotional. I continue to challenge these guys to allow me to talk to the officials. It just can be a distraction.”
That decisive final sequence
After Castleton tied the game at the line, the Gators had to get a stop on defense in order to send the game to overtime. As the clock ticked under seven seconds, Smith drove to Mann’s left – who momentarily glanced at the screener to his right – and converted at the rim to secure the victory.
“Great execution by Missouri out of the timeout,” White said. “We got Dru Smith on the wing and we didn’t handle that ball-screen situation very well and got beat to his strong hand, allowed a ball-screen reject.”
It was a grueling result considering UF, faced with a eight-point deficit, had appeared dead in the water just two minutes prior.
But it was even more frustrating because of what White just said: it was frequently discussed in the team’s preparation prior to tip-off.
“It was something we talked about in the scouting report for a week, just rejecting ball screens, rejecting ball-screens,” Mann said. “It was little mistakes, and every possession matters. We did it for a good 39 minutes, but the last play they went to it and we rejected it.”
Missouri 72, Florida 70
MISSOURI (15-7, 8-7 SEC)
Brown 1-4 0-0 2, Tilmon 6-8 0-2 12, Pinson 5-11 0-0 14, Ma.Smith 4-10 1-2 11, D.Smith 7-15 2-2 17, Mi.Smith 4-7 4-5 14, Pickett 1-3 0-0 2, Buggs 0-1 0-0 0, Braun 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 7-11 72.
FLORIDA (13-7, 9-6)
Castleton 3-6 4-4 10, Duruji 1-3 0-0 2, Appleby 3-7 5-7 12, Locke 4-8 0-0 11, Mann 9-11 3-3 21, Lewis 3-5 1-2 8, Payne 1-1 2-2 4, Osifo 0-0 0-0 0, Ruzhentsev 0-0 0-0 0, Glover 0-1 0-0 0, Jitoboh 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 25-43 15-18 70.
Halftime_Missouri 36-29. 3-Point Goals_Missouri 9-22 (Pinson 4-7, Mi.Smith 2-3, Ma.Smith 2-6, D.Smith 1-3, Braun 0-1, Brown 0-1, Buggs 0-1), Florida 5-14 (Locke 3-6, Lewis 1-1, Appleby 1-4, Castleton 0-1, Duruji 0-1, Mann 0-1). Fouled Out_Tilmon. Rebounds_Missouri 21 (Mi.Smith 6), Florida 28 (Duruji 11). Assists_Missouri 14 (D.Smith 9), Florida 11 (Appleby 5). Total Fouls_Missouri 16, Florida 11. A_2,306 (10,133).