Florida’s best option was Jalen Hudson. It had to be.
The focus has been clear for the Florida men’s basketball team over the last few weeks: Just…
It makes sense to get the ball to your senior guard when you’re trailing by one point in overtime. He was having his best scoring night of the season, equipped with 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting.
That’s exactly what the Gators did. Hudson got the inbounds pass with 7.8 second left. He slipped.
Hudson nudged the ball to guard Keyontae Johnson on the left side, who sent it over to guard KeVaughn Allen in the corner. Allen could’ve put up a three-point attempt, but instead he opted to attack the basket. He even tried to break through LSU’s two tallest players.
Before he could get any shot off, the final buzzer sounded.
Hudson’s season-high in points was not enough for the Gators to get a win over the Tigers on Wednesday at the O’Connell Center, as they fell 79-78 in overtime.
Hudson play was the highlight of Florida’s performance. He scored 18 straight points for UF starting at the 12:44 mark of the second half.
He finished 4 of 9 from behind the arc. When his shots weren’t falling from deep, he drove to the basket and maneuvered through LSU forwards Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams.
Johnson also played well for the Gators. He scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, stole the ball four times, blocked two shots and collected three rebounds.
Florida center Kevarrius Hayes didn’t have a good offensive game, but his defense was some of his best of the season. He grabbed 15 rebounds — including six offensive boards — had three steals and blocked two shots.
Their play wasn’t enough to give UF the edge, especially in the first half. It had a tough time getting started out the gate. Florida missed shots from everywhere on the court, shooting 32 percent from the field, while LSU guard Tremont Waters and forward Emmitt Williams made them. They combined for 18 of the team’s 34 first-half points.
The Gators trailed by only three points going into halftime thanks to Hudson and Hayes scoring eight point combined in the final six minutes.
They did much better in the second half.
UF finally jumped ahead a little over three minutes in.
The Gators held onto that lead for the majority of the half, mainly due to Hudson’s play. The senior scored 25 in the second half alone. Even when the Tigers regained the lead with 4:37 left in the game, Hudson kept Florida in it.
He was the go-to man on its final possession of regulation. The Gators were down 70-69 when Johnson found Hudson in the corner off a timeout. He sank his three-pointer, giving them a two-point edge.
Waters had another plan in mind. He ran down the court, navigating through traffic until he made a layup as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
Florida couldn’t overcome five more minutes with the Tigers, taking its second-consecutive loss.
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at [email protected].