Erving Walker was the hero in Florida’s 104-91 double-overtime win at Georgia Tuesday; he was also the villain.
Walker hit a 3-pointer from 30 feet out with one second on the clock to force a second overtime period, and was the Gators floor leader throughout the game. However, Walker’s gutsy style that eventually gave Florida the W is what put the game in jeopardy in the first place.
With the Gators (16-4, 5-1 SEC) up 72-66 with two minutes left in regulation Walker would be the only Gator to record a shot before overtime. The result: a turnover, two key missed free throws and a missed three pointer. Those two minutes of play were an anomaly in what was overall a stunning performance by the junior guard.
Walker’s play wasn’t the reason the Gators almost lost. The two teams were playing for first place in the SEC East, and both looked the part. This was not another game that went down to the wire because Florida let their opponent control the tempo of the gave. These squads were evenly matched, and were simply just fighting to prove who the better team was on that night.
Both teams were able to take decent leads of up to eight points, but every surge was responded to with great displays of resilience from the opponent. In regulation the game came down to the final possession. That was one area where Georgia (14-5, 3-3 SEC) had the advantage over Florida. Seven of Georgia’s games this season had decided on the last decision, with six going in favor of the Dawgs. Trey Thompkins, who had a great game for Georgia, slammed in an offensive rebound with one second left in regulation to triumphantly even the score.
This is the point in the game where Walker’s two minute slump changed to story of the game. If Walker was to not commit just one of the mistakes in the waning moments of regulation Georgia would have been forced to hit a three, which Florida’s defense had completely blocked. Instead, the Dawgs used the momentum from Thompkins dunk to set the tempo in overtime. Florida was very lucky that Walker even had a chance to get off his miracle shot. It took a total lapse in the Georgia defense to set up the wild highlight reel shot.
Double-overtime was the Gators turn to use momentum in their favor. Fueled by Walker’s shot, Florida outscored Georgia 19-6, which included nine points from Chandler Parsons.
The win was not a one man show by Walker. Parsons, Kenny Boynton and Vernon Macklin added MVP worthy performances of their own. Walker and Boynton led all scorers with 24 points, while Macklin added 23 and Parsons had 18.
Georgia was led on offense by Travis Leslie with 21 points and Thompkins with 20.
Parsons and Macklin anchored the Gator defense for a combined 21 rebounds. However, it was Florida’s play involving the free throw line that may have given them an extra edge. The Gators were an impressive 26-36 from the line compared to Georgia’s 16-24 performance. Furthermore the Dawgs had two starters, Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware, both foul out while the Gators haven’t had a player foul out all season.
With the win, the Gators are now in sole possession of first place in the SEC East, and will look to defend that title at Mississippi State on Saturday.
About the Author
Written by John Weidner
My name is John Weidner, and I am a Communications major at the University of North Florida. I have always had a talent for writing and communicating ideas in unique ways to others. Right now, I am learning more about how to cover and discuss different topics and ideas in the world of journalism. I consider myself a sports journalist but also am interested in covering anything that is newsworthy. I have been gaining experience as a journalist since I first joined the staff of my high school newspaper in tenth grade. I have written for numerous publications including: The Florida Times-Union, The Falcon Flyer, The UNF Spinnaker, La Plaza Magazine ,Jacksonville.com and The Ponte Vedra Recorder. I am also working on gaining other non-traditional forms of experience through different ways and am open to any opportunity that can be used as a learning experience.