With 5:17 left in the second half, the Florida Gators led Mississippi State 63-62. The Gators would score one more point in the closing minutes, losing to the Bulldogs, 71-64. The loss snaps UF's three-game winning streak and was the Gators' first road loss this season.
The Gators (16-5, 5-2) missed their last seven shots and were an incredible 1-5 at the line to finish the game. More incredible was that UF was 9-19 (47%) at the free throw line. You don't deserve to win when you shoot below 50% at the line. Middle school girls' basketball teams can shoot 50% at the line.
Florida was 5-21 from the arc and shot 40% from the field, percentages that were both topped by Miss State (11-9, 3-3). The Bulldogs did play good defense and their bigs limited Vernon Macklin to 10 points and Alex Tyus to six points. But, Florida would have won if they shot 75% from the line, because then they would not have to chuck threes in the final minutes and could have worked the ball inside. To be clear, Miss State has talent better than their record, but this was a winnable game.
As with every Gator loss, it's easy to point the finger at guard play. For today, Kenny Boynton and his 2-11 shooting, one rebound and two turnover game get the attention. Worse for Boynton is that he never got to the line. We expect a certain level of bad shooting, but the best guards know to get to the line to get points. Erving Walker led the Gators with 18 points, but it took 17 shots to get there. Chandler Parsons was mostly silenced, scoring nine points (4-11 shooting, 0-2 free throws) but pulling 10 rebounds.
Florida's next game is Tuesday night against Vandy.