Gators 67, Noles 66

Sam Greenwood

Late whistles save the Gators

In the preview we noted that defensive rebounding was the key for FSU. So it wasn't exactly surprising when an offensive board by UF with a little more than 3 seconds left gave them the win. Dorian Finney-Smith, a 5* transfer from Virginia Tech, grabbed the board and put up a shot that was blocked by Ian Miller racing in from the wing, but the ref whistled Miller for contact after the shot. Finney-Smith made one of two and UF took a 1-point lead.

At that point the clock was at 1.3 seconds, and though it should have been reset to 2.1 or 2.2 the refs never took a look on the monitor. Regardless, FSU inbounded to Ian Miller whose half court shot was an inch too long. It back rimmed and FSU suffered it's second loss to a top 15 team.

The first half of this game went as drawn up by UF. The Gators completely controlled the tempo, and they exerted tremendous perimeter pressure in order to take the ball away from the talented FSU guards. They single teamed the post and dared FSU to beat them inside. But Billy D wasn't smiling at halftime because Boris Bojanovsky scored 12 on 5-5 shooting, and Michael Ojo added four, making his only shot and going 2-2 from the line.

In the second half it was more of the same. Boris finished with a career high 14 points, and Ojo had a career high 10. Neither missed a shot. Most encouraging was that they did this against senior Patric Young who has dominated FSU in the past. Billy Donovan chose to let his senior center go one-on-one with FSU's 2nd and 3rd string centers and he was completely dominated.

But the Gators got hot in the 2nd half, and eventually opened up a 8-point lead with less than 3 minutes to go. Then FSU came storming back. Aaron Thomas and Ian Miller made free throws. Thomas got a bucket in transition. Miller canned a 3 and suddenly it was a 1-point game with less than a minute to go.

And that's when the whistles starting going UF's way.

On the ensuing possession Casey Prather was blocked by Bojo, and FSU was off to the races the other way. But the third ref, 40' from the play, blew a late whistle and Prather was awarded freebies. He made one, and then Miller took it hard to rack on the other and got fouled. Tie game. 66-66.

FSU got the stop they needed, which - at the least - would have forced overtime, but Dorian Finney-Smith got the offensive rebound...

Aside from Bojo and Ojo, the other Seminoles in double figures were Ian Miller (13) and Aaron Thomas (12). FSU was also facing one of the best press teams in the nation and only turned the ball over 12 times.

The good news is that the Noles - who were picked 9th in the ACC by the media and the coaches - are now 5-2 with the two losses coming against top-15 teams by a combined three points. Against the spread they're 6-1. The bad news is that it doesn't get any easier from here. Now FSU has to travel to Minnesota to take on a tough Gophers team Tuesday as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

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