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FSU 83, Florida 78: Gators go down fighting to Seminoles

Florida whittled down a big deficit, but couldn’t get enough makes to get a win.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Florida State Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Midway through the second half on Sunday in Tallahassee, Florida trailed Florida State 61-48 — just like it had trailed Duke by the same score on Tuesday.

And just like in that game, Florida tried its damnedest to erase that deficit, but never could, falling by an 83-78 count.

The Gators got a career-high 21 points from Kasey Hill on the day, but precious little from anyone else until it was too late.

KeVaughn Allen, limited in the first half by three fouls, had 16 points, most of them in the second period, but needed 13 shots to get them. Canyon Barry? Six points on 10 shots. Chris Chiozza? Six on seven. Three of John Egbunu’s eight points came on a desperation three with just seconds left. Devin Robinson’s eight came along with five fouls.

Florida shot just 47 percent from the floor, and made just four of 16 threes. Take away Hill’s 10-for-15 night, though, and those numbers plummet to 40 and 20 percent.

Those offensive struggles scuttled a mostly excellent defensive performance by the Gators, who limited FSU’s potent offense to 46 percent shooting from the field, and 27 percent from three. But the Gators never stopped Dwayne Bacon, who scored 24 points (on 18 shots), and fouled all game long, allowing the Seminoles to shoot 33 free throws — and make 25.

Florida took 25 freebies of its own, but made just 16 — and those nine missed points more than covered the margin of victory.

Florida has now lost two straight games away from Gainesville against NCAA Tournament-bound ACC teams in which it did not lead in the second half — and three straight against the Seminoles, all in games decided by fewer than five points.

But the meat of the Gators’ non-conference schedule is digested or digesting now, and no result from it so far has been genuinely dyspeptic. If the Gators can hold it together for one last barnstorming game against Charlotte prior to returning to the renovated O’Connell Center just 10 days from now, they will be in good position to hold down a spot in the NCAA Tournament field throughout their SEC schedule.