Skip to content

No. 5 Florida’s failure to close halves proves costly in Tucson

Dec 16, 2012, 1:20 AM EDT

Florida v Arizona Getty Images

TUCSON – No. 5 Florida led No. 8 Arizona 64-58 with 1:17 remaining, and it looked like the 14,000-plus Wildcat fans inside McKale Center would not go home with a win to cap a day that began with their football team’s comeback at the New Mexico Bowl.

Both teams had other plans however, as the Gators were reckless with the basketball late (three turnovers in their final five possessions) and the Wildcats was more than willing to take advantage.

Arizona scored the final seven points of the game, with Mark Lyons’ driving basket with seven seconds remaining proving to be the difference in the 65-64 victory.

Florida entered Saturday’s contest averaging just 12.4 turnovers per game, with their two worst performances in that category coming in decisive victories over Wisconsin (20 turnovers) and Florida State (15). Florida finished tonight’s game with 14 turnovers, but many of their miscues coming in the latter stages of each half.

Florida controlled much of the contest but the moments that were the exception proved to be costly, as Arizona outscored the Gators 15-0 when looking at solely the final 1:20 of each half.

“For me it’s a tale of two halves, closing out the halves so to speak,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan. “I told the guys at halftime, ‘if you’re going to lose the game, make them beat us’ and I felt we beat ourselves tonight, especially in the first half.

“We didn’t close out very well, we didn’t execute well enough. We’ve had issues with turnovers; it’s been a problem for us and it started in the Wisconsin game.

Arizona trailed 32-21 with 1:20 left in the first half, but an 8-0 run thanks to a pair of Nick Johnson three-pointers and a Solomon Hill dunk closed the gap to three at the intermission. Florida turned the ball over five times to Arizona’s eight in the first half, but the Wildcats outscored the Gators 9-8 in the points off turnovers category.

The second half proved to be more of the same for Florida, as they took control of the game only to have it slip from their grasp down the stretch. Three consecutive turnovers followed by two missed shots in the final minute plus and the Gators were on their way back to Gainesville with a tough loss.

Erik Murphy (ten points in the first half with just one turnover; six points with four turnovers in the second) struggled against Arizona’s smaller lineup in the second half, a move brought on primarily by starting center Kaleb Tarczewski’s foul trouble.

Solomon Hill led Arizona with 18 points, Johnson added 15 and Lyons 14 capped by his drive to the basket in the final seconds.

While the comeback was an impressive one for the Wildcats, who handed the Pac-12 a needed Christmas present in the form of the league’s first win over a non-conference opponent ranked in the Top 10 since 2009 (USC beat Tennessee 77-55), the biggest story will be about how Florida allowed a statement victory to slip away.

How Florida addresses its issues with turnovers and closing out halves will ultimately determine whether or not a team that’s reached the Elite 8 in each of the last two seasons can take the next step.

“What I love about this team is that we are never satisfied,” said Rosario, who finished the game with a team-high 16 points. “We have a lot of areas we can improve upon, and we just need to keep pressing through the rest of the season.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Frank Haith lands first commitment as head coach at Tulsa

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Haith earned a commitment from a three-star point guard from Western New York.

  2. Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet on giving back to community: ‘Kids only listen to what they see now’

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    Fred VanVleet, Ka'Darryl Bell AP

    Van Vleet has been attending speaking engagements this offseason, trying to give back to the youth.

  3. Oklahoma State lands commitment from elite point guard in 2015

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armor Kelly Kline/Under Armor

    Jawun Evans is one of the top three point guards in the class.

  4. NCAA twitter account effortlessly trolls MLB during playoff opener

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    Harvard v Arizona Getty Images

    Do you think the MLB needs some ice for that burn?

  5. Former Baylor commit suing former high school for alleged grade manipulation

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Scott Drew AP

    A former Baylor commit is suing his former high school for allegedly altering his grades.

  6. Five-star 2015 guard to visit SEC school this weekend

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT

    FIBA U17 World Championships - Dubai Getty Images

    Can an SEC program reel in a top-5 player in the 2015 class during a weekend visit?

  7. IUPUI unveils new court design (PHOTO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    IUPUI athletics IUPUI athletics

    IUPUI unveiled a new court design this week.

  8. Western Kentucky fans pick new uniform design (PHOTO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Western Kentucky mascot Big Red AP

    Western Kentucky fans were given three options and selected one for the upcoming season.

  9. John Calipari hiring an analytics director is smart, necessary, strictly for his players

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    NBA teams know all about efficiency stats and advanced analytics. College freshmen and sophomores may not.

  10. Mixtape for elite 2015 PG Jawun Evans (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armor Kelly Kline/Under Armor

    Evans may be the best point guard in the Class of 2015, but it’s up for debate.

  11. Washington State lands commitment from in-state center

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:17 PM EDT

    ernie kent AP

    Ernie Kent lands his third commitment in the Class of 2015.

  12. Report: Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg to join College Gameday set

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT

    Seth Greenberg AP

    The pair will replace Digger Phelps and Jalen Rose.

  13. Temple lands their second top 150 recruit in the 2015 class

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:48 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    The Owls may not have landed Jalen Brunson, but they did bring in an elite “legacy” in the back court.

  14. Three-star 2015 guard commits to Long Beach State

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

    Reebok Reebok

    Long Beach State has four commits in 2015.

  15. More changes to UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT

    Pauley Pavilion

    Pauley Pavilion has gone under plenty of changes in the last few seasons and dealt with a flooding issue several months back.

  16. UNLV lands four-star 2016 forward

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline Kelly Kline

    UNLV continues to tap into the local powerhouse.

  17. Washington adds fourth commit in Rivals150 forward

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:47 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    All four commits are ranked in the Rivals150.