Some observations following UF’s 61-56 overtime win over Lousiana-Monroe:
— Florida sophomore forward Chris Walker’s long-awaited debut showed what Florida coach Billy Donovan has been saying all along. The McDonald’s All-American showed progress, but still has a long way to go. Walker had 4 points, 6 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 26 minutes off the bench. He struggled finishing around the basket, but fought for his own miss to score a putback on one basket and got another basket running the floor in transition. Walker still couldn’t establish position inside due to his lack of bulk and was late on a few defensive assignments. At one point, Florida guard Michael Frazier had to yell at Walker to get him in position for an offensive set. Walker also failed to hit the deck for a loose ball with the Gators up 5 points in the closing minutes, a Cardinal sin in a close game.
— For the second straight game, Florida had a maddening late-game collapse in regulation, failing to hold an 8-point lead with 2:31 left. The Gators left Jamaal Samuel open in transition for one of two back-to-back ULM 3-pointers late, but Donovan was disappointed in the offensive play that bled into the possession, with Frazier coming up short on a one-one-one drive to the basket with 1:11 left and 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Donovan wanted Frazier to bleed more of the shot clock. “One pass and he’s charging toward the basket,” Donovan said.
— Where would the Gators be without walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz? In his last two games the senior forward has averaged 6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. On the flip side, freshman forward Devin Robinson showed nerves in his first career start, going 1 for 5 from the field against ULM with 2 points and 3 rebounds. Robinson was 0 for 4 from 3-point range, including a pair of air balls on 3-point attempts.