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Thursday, May 19, 2022
<p>Florida missed <span id="docs-internal-guid-a50946c9-7fff-55aa-4deb-4dbceff1cdee"><span>eight shots in the final seven minutes of its 69-71 loss to South Carolina, including a missed jumper and layup from freshman guard Keyontae Johnson.</span></span></p>

Florida missed eight shots in the final seven minutes of its 69-71 loss to South Carolina, including a missed jumper and layup from freshman guard Keyontae Johnson.

The game looked as if it was going to overtime.

Kevarrius Hayes had made his second free-throw attempt with 3.5 seconds to tie the game against South Carolina. All Florida had to do was not allow any Gamecocks players to get open.

The Gators made the mistake of letting forward Chris Silva get behind them.

South Carolina forward Felipe Haase threw a hail mary in desperation, finding Silva open behind the Gators defense with enough time to dunk the ball and secure the 71-69 win Saturday night in the O’Connell Center.

Of course, no game-winning play like that comes without controversy. Replay showed what appeared to be Silva slightly pushing off Hayes and forward Keyonte Johnson, creating that separation.

It was enough for the fans in attendance to scream out in protest at the referees. It was not enough for the referees to call the foul.

All that could’ve been avoided if the Gators had made a field goal in the last 7:17 of the game.

Florida couldn’t buy a bucket even if that bucket was free.

UF took eight shots in that span -- five missed threes from freshman guards Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard, a missed jumper from guard Jalen Hudson and a missed jumper and layup from Johnson. It also went 4-of-8 from the charity stripe during that time after going 10-for-12.

Locke, who led the team with 17 points, shot the ball a game-high 16 times, 15 of which came from beyond the arc. He looked good early on, opening the scoring for the Gators with back-to-back threes, but went cold in the second half.

Not even guard KeVaughn Allen could get going. After shooting 4-of-5 in the first half for 10 points, Allen only put up one shot in the second.

The first half of the game told a different story than what was to come in the second.

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The Gators led by as much as 13 with five and a half minutes left in the first half. Allen and Locke paved the way with a combined 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. A strong UF defensive presence forced South Carolina to turn the ball over 15 times, which Florida used to score 19 points.

The Gamecocks only led once. A free-throw gave them a short-lived advantage.

That didn’t stop South Carolina from going into the break down 36-32 following a 15-6 run.

Most of the second half resulted in the same style as the first. The Gators held a solid lead but failed to extend it past 14. This kept the Gamecocks in the contest and helped them pull off the comeback.

South Carolina controlled the tempo at the end. It limited its turnovers to seven, outrebounded Florida 17-16 and created a strong presence in the paint. It scored 18 points from inside.

The Gamecocks tied the game with about four and a half minutes remaining, the first time the Gators didn’t have a lead since two minutes into the game.

Both teams traded blows from there, with Florida being reduced to just making free throws, but the baskets South Carolina made were too much for the Gators to handle. With the game tied for the final time, Silva received the ball on a prayer of a pass and dunked it for the win.

Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org. 

Florida missed eight shots in the final seven minutes of its 69-71 loss to South Carolina, including a missed jumper and layup from freshman guard Keyontae Johnson.

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