No. 10 Florida puts end to Arkansas streak in OT
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas finally ran out of answers at home.
The Razorbacks, despite a career-high 23 points from Ky Madden, saw their 23-game home winning streak snapped in an 84-82 overtime loss to No. 10 Florida on Saturday.
The loss came on the heels of a disappointing defeat at Texas A&M on Wednesday, sending Arkansas (11-4, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) to its first two-game losing streak of the season. The Razorbacks were undefeated at home in conference play last season.
Arkansas appeared to have the game all but sealed with 17.1 seconds remaining in regulation, but Alandise Harris missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Gators (13-2, 2-0) the ball back while down 66-64.
Scottie Wilbekin answered with the game-tying bank shot with two seconds left on the other end for the Gators, who then took control quickly in overtime.
“We just didn’t finish the deal,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “We had opportunities at the free-throw line. We had some open shots we didn’t make. We had some open shots we didn’t make.
″... This one hurts. Why? Because we felt we played well enough (to win).”
Florida, meanwhile, overcame a host of injuries to earn its seventh-straight win.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored a career-high 22 points while starting in the place of leading scorer Casey Prather, while Wilbekin scored nine points in overtime as the Gators completed their comeback.
“It means a lot to us,” Finney-Smith said. “It tells you about our team. We play for each other. Any given night, it can be someone’s night and tonight it was just me.”
Prather, averaging 17 points, missed the game because of a bone bruise in his right knee, but he was hardly the only Gator affected by injuries. Wilbekin missed two days of practice this week with a sprained ankle, and center Patric Young also missed time with a sore knee.
Wilbekin finished with 18 points for Florida, and Michael Frazier had 15 and Young 10.
Finney-Smith, starting for just the second time this season, added 15 rebounds — including nine offensive — while also connecting on three 3-pointers.
“You’re going into this game not really knowing what you’re going to get,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. ”... I think the one guy we, at least I tried to instill just a belief and confidence was in (Finney-Smith). Just to go, be aggressive, play through mistakes.”
Madden hit 5 of 10 3-pointers, and Coty Clarke added a season-high 16 points and 14 rebounds, but neither was enough for Arkansas — which has lost two straight for the first time this season.
Finney-Smith had nine points at halftime, and he continued to have the hot hand in the second half and overtime — where he scored five straight points to put the Gators up 77-69.
Following a pair of baskets from Harris, who finished with 11 points, the Razorbacks closed the Florida lead to 82-79 with 21.9 seconds remaining in overtime. However, Harris missed an inside attempt and Wilbekin — who had nine points in overtime — sealed the win with free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining.
Michael Qualls, who finished with 10 points, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull Arkansas within 84-82.
″(Harris) didn’t make the play, but we also didn’t make the plays and execute and win the game,” Clarke said. “So, it’s not on him but us.”
The Gators took a 23-22 lead midway through the first half after a floater by Kasey Hill, but Arkansas — which hadn’t lost at home since a 91-82 defeat to Syracuse on Nov. 30, 2012 — responded with a 10-2 run to take its largest lead of the half at 32-25.
Clarke, who had 13 points in the first half, matched his career high with three 3-pointers, and he put the Razorbacks up 64-57 with a free throw.
However, Florida closed out regulation on a 9-2 run to tie the game — eventually winning it in overtime in Bud Walton Arena, where the Gators lost last season.
“We didn’t want anything less (than a win),” Wilbekin said. “Us four seniors, with this being our last game here, we wanted to go out with a win.”