For as well as Florida has played to start 2-0 in the SEC, players and coaches know the Gators could execute better.
Cleaning up the little things will be important when Florida next plays Saturday at home against South Carolina.
Florida, which outrebounded 13 of its first 14 non-conference opponents, was even on the boards against the Vols (35-35). For the season in SEC play, Florida is minus one on the boards.
“We can’t afford to let teams crash on the boards the way (Tennessee) did against us,” senior forward Chandler Parsons said.
Parsons, Alex Tyus and Erving Walker also had critical turnovers in the final four-minutes, as Florida failed to hold a six-point lead in the final 5:43. Parsons’ turnover came on an in-bounds play off a time out.
“I needed to do a better job of getting their attention and letting them know how important it was going to be to get the ball back in court,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Florida’s free-throw shooting woes also nearly cost the Gators in the overtime win. Tyus missed the front end of a one-and-one with 42 seconds left that could have won the game at the end of regulation. Florida missed five more free-throws in overtime.
“We did some very, very good things late and we did some poor things late,” Donovan said.
— Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin has continued to make an impact off the bench by doing the little things. Wilbekin’s perimeter defense late in the first half helped spark an 11-2 run that allowed Florida to go into the half ahead 32-31 against Tennessee. And his minutes have allowed Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton to stay more fresh late in games. Walker and Boynton combined to score UF’s final 16 points against Ole Miss, and scored 14 of UF’s final 19 points against Tennessee.
Donovan said he thought that the 17-year-old Wilbekin was capable of competing in more physical SEC games when he recruited him out of The Rock school in Gainesville. Through two SEC games, Wilbekin has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 9 to 0.
“I felt like watching him there were two things he could do to overcome his age,” Donovan said. “One, I felt like he had really good feet. He can really move his feet. Two, he’s a really strong kid, he’s got a good body, he’s got a good frame on him. And I thought with the speed and the strength he could come in the game and give us some good minutes. He’s really done a good job in that area for us.”