If you’re a Florida fan and you’re reading this right now, you probably hate Shabazz Napier’s guts.
After what he did to your team Monday night, it’s understandable. Napier scored 26 points — including No. 12 Connecticut’s final six — to beat No. 15 Florida 65-64 in Storrs, Conn.
Late in the game, the senior guard made two keys shots — a buzzer-beater on a second-chance opportunity and a four-point play on the previous possession.
But if you analyze the tape, you’ll realize luck — and officiating — did not go in UF’s favor late in the game on those two plays.
The Buzzer-Beater: The final possession of the game was a frantic mess that saw many small breaks work in the Huskies’ favor.
With 17.7 seconds left in the game and his team down by a point, Napier took up the ball and then proceeded to use a pick from forward DeAndre Daniels. But Florida doubled on the pick-and-roll with Patric Young and Casey Prather to trap Napier.
The elusive Napier split the double team, losing his handle on the ball but regaining it after about half of a second. He then forced an off-balance jumper from the right elbow that clanked off the backboard.
Before any Gator could jump for the rebound, Daniels back-tapped the ball — intentionally or accidentally — and Napier somehow found himself with the ball in his hands at the free-throw line for one more shot.
Even with the 6-foot-6 Prather running toward Napier, sticking a hand in the Connecticut guard’s face, Napier released the shot with only 0.4 seconds to spare and sunk it.
All five Gators should not have converged down low for the rebound. Florida should have stuck a man on a player as dangerous as Napier at all times. On the rebound attempt, UF left him unattended.
But Florida coach Billy Donovan made a good point after the game. If the ball were tipped anywhere else, the Gators would have won the game. It was a fluky play.
The Four-Point Play: After the game, Donovan said the refs made a mistake calling a foul on Dorian Finney-Smith during Napier’s three-point shot on the right wing.
With Florida ahead by three points, Napier received a pass from guard Ryan Boatright and faded back for a three-point attempt on the right wing. But when he came down, Napier landed awkwardly on Finney-Smith’s foot and dropped to the ground, appearing injured.
Cue the late whistle.
If you re-watch the play, Finney-Smith went straight up to defend the shot and never kicked his leg out. This was a blown call by the officials.
It was a crucial mistake that saw Napier make his ensuing free throw for a 63-62 UConn lead with 33.5 seconds remaining. Florida has all the right to be mad about it.
But ultimately, the Gators can’t make too many excuses. They had two opportunities on that same possession to grab rebounds after missed three-point attempts by the Huskies. UF came up empty on the boards as Napier was given his opportunity to shine.
Follow Landon Watnick on Twitter @LandonWatnick.
Connecticut's Shabazz Napier (13) goes up for the game winning basket at the buzzer during its 65-64 win against Florida on Monday in Storrs, Conn.