By Charles Kane (Twitter: @ckane02)
Arkansas could not miss to open this game as they stunned No. 2 Florida 80-69 in a game that was not as close as the scoreboard suggested.
The Razorbacks opened the game shooting an astonishing 14-18 and 7-9 from beyond the 3-point arc to make the score 34-13. At one point the Gators had four field goals and five turnovers. They finished the first half with seven field goals and seven turnovers.
Florida reached its largest deficit of the season just six minutes into the ballgame when the score reached 21-8. This came in large part to a 9-0 run for the Razorbacks in a two-minute span. It was at this time that Patric Young already had two fouls and Will Yeguete hurt his knee and did not return.
The Gators gave up 43 points in the first half which is the most for a half this season. Florida scored their second lowest point total for a half with 26. Arkansas’ largest lead by halftime was 23. They shot 16-30 (53%) compared to Florida’s 7-24 (29%). This was simply too big of a deficit for the Gators to overcome and would have been the second largest comeback in school history.
Arkansas finished the game shooting 8-18 (44%) from 3-point range after shooting just 24% in their first eight SEC games. They were successful in figuring out Florida’s defense and executed their offense better than any team the Gators have faced this season.
Whenever Florida appeared to be poised to start a run and dig into Arkansas’ lead they would either step on their own foot or the Razorbacks would step on the gas. Whether it was two missed Florida lay-ups in a row or a rim-rattling Razorback dunk that brought the sellout crowd down, the Gators could not seem to get within striking distance. The Arkansas crowd of 13,816 in Bud Walton Arena was filled with energy the entire night.
Mike Rosario finished with a game-high 15 points. Scottie Wilbekin followed with 14 points on 5-15 shooting whilst grabbing seven rebounds. Arkansas’ leading scorer, BJ Young, led the team once again with 13 points. He also added five rebounds and four assists.
Arkansas continued their dominance at home improving to 14-1 in Bud Walton Arena and 14-8 overall. This loss for the Gators snapped a 10-game winning streak overall and a five-game winning streak against Arkansas. The Gators are now 18-3 overall and 8-1 in SEC play. Florida’s next game is at home against Mississippi State (7-13) Feb. 9.
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