Florida junior point Erving Walker deserves kudos for hitting his second clutch 3-pointer for the Gators in the span of six days.
But the question remains, is Walker currently Florida’s best option on the free-throw line in the closing minutes of the game?
I posed that question to Florida coach Billy Donovan shortly after UF’s double-overtime win at Georgia.
“If I had it to do over again, I’d have Erv at the line,” Donovan said. “I feel good with the ball in his hands. Give him credit for not letting it affect him mentally and making a huge shot for us in overtime.”
Walker missed two of three critical free throws in the final 35.1 seconds of regulation against the Bulldogs, which gave Georgia enough life to tie the game at send it to overtime. Walker had previously missed critical free throws down the stretch in losses to Jacksonville and South Carolina.
After an 8-for-12 day from the line, Walker dropped to third on the Gators in free throw shooting (75.2 percent) behind Kenny Boynt0n (81.5 percent) and Erik Murphy (81.8 percent). Walker’s 75.2 percent is down from his career average of 80.2 percent.
Of course, the way Walker is shooting from 3-point range down the stretch lately, his best bet might be to take a few steps back from the line.
— Wonder how Chandler Parsons injured his groin in the second half? At first, I thought it may have been a pull. But it turns out, it was a team-inflicted injury.
After Parsons followed Murphy with the second of back-to-back 3s to put the Gators up 53-47, senior center Vernon Macklin celebrated by whipping a towel that landed too far below Parsons’ belt.
“I almost puked,” Parsons said.
But after a brief stint on the bench, Parsons returned to provide quality minutes down the stretch and in overtime. Parsons grabbed 11 rebounds in the final 30 minutes of the game to post his 10th career double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds). Parsons is averaging 13.5 rebounds over his last two games.
— Georgia coach Mark Fox said Florida’s improved rebounding in the second half contributed to his decision not to put Florida on the line up by three points in the closing seconds. Instead, Walker drained a huge 3-pointer that sent the game to a second overtime.
“We have always trusted our defense, and with the way we were rebounding in the second half, I didn’t think we were going to do anything else,” Fox said.
In a similar situation three seasons ago, Donovan fouled South Carolina guard Devan Downey up by three points in the closing seconds of regulation. Downey missed his free throw, then missed the second. South Carolina failed to get a 3-point attempt up at the buzzer and Florida held on for an 85-82 win.