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HOOPS: Gators win seesaw affair

GAINESVILLE -- Dorian-Finney Smith labored all evening. He missed two one-handed dunks, was 0-of-4 from the 3-point line and seemed to mentally press on his first game on a national stage, but the Virginia Tech transfer overcame all his struggles to ultimately make the game-winning play for the Gators. 

Finney-Smith’s free throw with 1.3 seconds sealed No. 15 Florida’s fifth straight win over Florida State 67-66 in a rocking (and sold out) O’Dome on Friday night. 

Hoops

The sophomore, who finished with six points (on 2-of-12 shooting) and 10 rebounds (six on the offensive glass), corralled Scottie Wilbekin’s missed jumper and was fouled on his put-back attempt. He missed the first free throw before connecting on the second attempt.

But the drama was hardly over.

The Gators averted a late collapse after FSU guard Ian Miller, who drained a contested 3-pointer moments earlier, narrowly missed a halfcourt heave at the buzzer.

Senior forward Casey Prather led the Gators with 19 points and had the highlight of the game: a hellacious alley-oop dunk on a beautiful pass from Wilbekin out of a timeout. Sophomore sniper Michael Frazier II added 15 on five timely treys.

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS

* FSU’s 7-footers Michael Ojo (7’2”) and Boris Bojanovsky (7’3”) -- despite their relative inexperience and subpar season statistics -- were a tough matchup for Florida’s frontcourt. Bojanovsky, FSU’s Slovakian sophomore, scored a career-high 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. Ojo, a sophomore who weighs nearly 300 pounds, chipped in 10 points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes. Both bigs were in and out of foul trouble though, a key factor late in the game.

* Wilbekin did a lot of everything Friday night – good and bad. The senior guard, playing in just his second game since returning from a six-game suspension, scored just seven points (2-for-12) as he could never find his midrange touch. Yet Wilbekin again proved his value distributing the ball and piloting UF's aggressive on-ball defense. The senior finished with eight assists and five steals. 

* While the second half was entertaining, Friday’s contest was another game marred by whistles and poor shooting. The Gators opened the evening 4-of-19 and finished the night shootin just 38.5 percent from the field. The two teams combined for 38 fouls and 21 turnovers.

* Cult hero Jake “The Snake” Kurtz continued his impressive play, as the walk-on chipped in eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, seniors Patric Young (four points, four rebounds, four fouls) and Will Yeguete (six points, six rebounds) labored for much of the evening. 

* Florida State nearly rallied late to upset UF thanks to some strong free throw shooting. FSU was 20-23 from the charity stripe, while Florida shot just 62 percent (15-of-24) from the line. 

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