The Florida Gators fought to keep up with Mississippi State for 35 minutes, and then they ran out of gas.
The Gators trailed the Bulldogs for most of their 71-64 loss on Saturday. However, Florida was on the verge of positioning themselves for the win until their offense fell asleep in the final five minutes of the second half.
Erving Walker’s basket with 5:17 left gave Florida a 63-62 lead, but would be the team’s last basket of the game. The Gators missed their final eight shots and went 1-6 from the line after Walker’s basket.
Foul shots were a key component to the Bulldogs victory. Mississippi State was 19-23 from the charity strike in the game including a 6-6 mark in the games final minute. Florida was a dismal 9-19, and is 10th in the SEC with a .653 mark on the season.
The outcome was almost a flipped script of what may have been expected entering the contest. The 23rd ranked Gators (16-5, 5-2 SEC) entered the game in sole possession of first place in the SEC East and on a three game winning streak. The Bulldogs (11-9, 3-3 SEC) were coming off back-to-back losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt, and were still searching for a signature win this season. They got it against the Gators.
Dee Bost led the Bulldogs with a commanding 24 point performance. The floor leader helped the Bulldogs control the tempo throughout the game. Mississippi State led by as many as ten points, but the Gators kept it close until the end. That’s when the Bulldogs really stepped out of character.
On Thursday, Mississippi State dropped a similar game against Vanderbilt in which they led for most of the game, but weren’t able to finish.
In some ways Florida practically gave Mississippi State the game. The Gators had one of their worst offensive performances of the season, and often look disinterested and out of character.
There were a few bright spots in the game. Florida outrebounded the Bulldogs 42-34, and grabbed an impressive 16 offensive rebounds on the game. Chandler Parsons led the Gators with 10 rebounds, while Vernon Macklin and Will Yeguete both added 6.
Erving Walker continued his starring role on the Gators offense by leading the team with 18 points. However, this time he wasn’t able to hit the big shots, or any shots for that matter, in the games final moments. After scoring the Gators’ last basket of the game, Walker went 0-5 during Florida’s drought.
Things don’t get any easier soon for the Gators. They travel to play #22 Vanderbilt on Tuesday, and #16 Kentucky 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.