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Texas A&M 71, Florida 68: Free throw woes, fouls help doom Gators on road

Florida loses another one on the margins.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators had one of their finest nights from beyond the arc all year on Tuesday night, got a magnificent performance from Justin Leon, and kept Texas A&M more or less in check. They lost anyway, by a 71-68 count, and fell to 2-2 in SEC play as a result.

Florida had two chances to tie in the final 10 seconds, but a foul on John Egbunu for an illegal screen wasted the better chance, and Chris Chiozza's desperation three off an inbounds steal was off line.

That helped waste what was otherwise a fine effort against a team that is undefeated at home this year, and looked at times fully deserving of its No. 15 ranking. The Aggies controlled the game, and never trailed in the second half, but also never led by more than 10 points, with 10 Gators threes (!) and a career-high 16 points from Leon reeling them in time and again.

Florida never got over the hump largely because of its typically dismal free throw shooting (4-for-12) and a large discrepancy in foul shots (A&M had 30 to Florida's 12, and got called for 13 fouls to Florida's 25) that helped the Aggies pad their lead. Jalen Jones had 26, Danuel House had 22, and Alex Caruso filled the stat sheet with five points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, and two steals.

Dorian Finney-Smith (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Chiozza (12 points, eight assists, four rebounds) each joined Leon in double figures, but it wasn't enough to topple the Aggies.

And while this loss isn't nearly as bad as a thumping at Tennessee last week, it throws a monkey wrench in Florida's attempt to build some momentum by winning consecutive SEC games during what seems like a relatively soft stretch of its conference schedule.