For as dramatic as Florida’s double-overtime win was against Georgia, it underscored an issue that popped up earlier this season in an overtime win at Tennessee.
UF’s inability to close out a game in regulation on the road.
Against Tennessee, Florida couldn’t hold a four-point lead with four minutes left, scoring just two field goals in the final 4:11. Against Georgia, Florida couldn’t hold an eight-point lead in the final three minutes, going the final 3:08 without a field goal.
In the Georgia game, with Florida up six points, Kenny Boynton missed a shot 16 seconds in the shot clock with 2:31 remaining. Later, with Florida up four points, Erving Walker missed a 3-point attempt 23 seconds into the shot clock with 1:05 left.
Could chewing up some of those extra 31 seconds on the shot clock resulted in one or two less Georgia possessions? Florida coach Billy Donovan said it’s a tricky balancing act trying to run more clock in late-game situations.
Donovan pointed to Walker’s turnover with 1:38 left as an example. Georgia junior guard Dustin Ware stripped the ball from Walker and was fouled as he drove for a breakaway layup attempt. Ware made both free throws to cut Florida’s lead to 72-68.
“I think you have to maintain a little bit of aggressiveness,” Donovan said. “We ended up being up six (72-66) with two minutes to go and we utilized some clock, and we took off 25 to 30 seconds and we turned the ball over.
“I believe there is a point in the game where you certainly have to look at the clock. Two minutes to go in a two possession game, you have to maintain a level of aggressiveness because there’s enough possessions, there’s probably going to be another eight possessions in that game.”
Of course, Walker leaving three points on the table hurt as well. Walker missed the front end of a one-and-one with Florida up 72-68 and 35.1 seconds left, then later made just one of two free throws with 20.1 seconds remaining to extend UF’s slim lead to 73-71.
Still, Donovan said he wants his players to remain aggressive in late-game situations.
“There is a balance and a fine line there,” Donovan said. “I’d rather our guys maintain a level of aggressiveness, us being aggressive rather trying to passively hold on. You have to make some plays.”
— Senior Chandler Parsons has improved his rebounding ability in each of his four years on campus. As a freshman, Parsons averaged 4.0 rebounds per game. Parsons followed that by averaging 5.7 rpg as a sophomore and 6.8 rpg as a junior.
This season, Parsons is averaging 7.2 rpg per game, which ranks 13th in the SEC. Parsons is averaging 13.5 rebounds over his last two games.
Parsons said his improved rebounding has partly come from being stronger and smarter around the basket.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Parsons said. “I think it’s being more physical. I think rebounding is all about effort. I think it’s me wanting to get rebounds, it’s about me going to the offensive glass, making my guy miserable every play trying to block me out. It’s not like the ball is bouncing to me more. I’m definitely working for it.”
— Walker said he has no explanation why his free-throw percentage has been lower this season (75.4 percent) than his career percentage (80.2) as a freshman and a sophomore.
“I really don’t know,” Walker said. “Just something that is, I would say. It’s just focusing in. I should be alright with that.”
Walker said he doesn’t plan on taking any extra free-throws before Saturday’s game at Mississippi State. “Just my regular routine, ” Walker said. “We shoot them a lot in practice. Individually, they make us shoot them so I’m just keeping it up.”