For the first time this season, the No. 8 Gators entered the half trailing by double-digits. Although Florida cut Kansas State’s lead from 10 to one in less than four minutes to open the second half, it wasn’t enough to give Florida the win.
The Gators (8-2) dropped their second game of the year in a 67-61 loss to the Wildcats (9-2) at the Sprint Center.
“We’ve got post players that are open and we got perimeter guys that are open, and our guards insist on taking these running floating shots down the lane,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We’ve charted it this year, our guards are shooting on the year on those shots over outstretched big men’s arms about 12 percent. … We’ve got to be able to drive down the lane or make a better play, and the guy that did a terrific jump of driving down the lane was Scottie Wilbekin.”
Wilbekin got Florida out to a fast start by making a jumper on the opening possession. The Gators then alternated between holding the lead and trailing until the Wildcats regained the lead for good only 12:24 into the game.
Will Spradling’s three, which put Kansas State up 20-19 midway through the first half, sparked a 16-4 run for the Wildcats to close out the half.
“We didn’t guard the three point line very well,” Donovan said.
Still, center Patric Young had a successful night in Kansas City, Mo. The junior had his eighth career double-double thanks to 19 points and 10 rebounds. He hit 8-of-11 shots from the field.
Young was consistent with scoring throughout the game, but his strongest offensive performance came in the final five minutes.
Young made 10 of Florida’s 12 points before he fouled out with 0:15 left in the game. After Young fouled out, Wilbekin made the final shot for the Gators to finish the night with 11 points and seven assists.
“I thought offensively we really made some really poor decisions,” Donovan said. “I thought outside of Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young, they were really the only two guys who gave us a sound game on offense.”
Young shined on defense as well. His 10 rebounds were more than the other four Gators starters had combined. However, it still wasn’t enough to help Florida who was out rebounded 35-25.
“I thought defensively the whole entire game on the backboard, we were a step slow,” Donovan said. “In the first half, Patric Young had more than half of our rebounds. Our front court of Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete combined for a total of one rebound in the first half. You just can’t play against a great offensive rebounding team and have the kind of effort we had and be able to win a game.”
A UF radio broadcast contributed to this report.