Short-handed, No. 8 Florida falls to Miami 69-67
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 7 Florida likely will be without forward Dorian Finney-Smith at least another game.
With Finney-Smith sidelined and fellow forward Chris Walker suspended, the Gators faded down the stretch and lost 69-67 to Miami on Monday night.
Coach Billy Donovan started a walk-on who played 36 minutes, hardly the ideal scenario against the Hurricanes. And it eventually showed.
Angel Rodriguez scored 24 points on seven baskets, including a falling-down, hand-in-the-face 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining, and helped the Hurricanes end Florida’s school-record, 33-game winning streak at home. Rodriguez scored 21 points in the final 9:02, including the crushing trey over Kasey Hill, who had a hand in his face.
“He made some very difficult shots, some tough shots,” Donovan said. “He took over the game. Really, he was the difference in the game there. Everything was fine and then he hit those two 3s on the break and got going.”
The Hurricanes (2-0) scored 48 points in the second half as Rodriguez took over. The former Kansas State guard hit three consecutive 3-pointers that helped Miami take the lead with 1:45 left.
Florida (1-1) had a final chance to send it to overtime, but Michael Frazier II missed a jumper at the buzzer.
Eli Carter led the Gators with 21 points, including 16 in the second half. Carter hit a driving layup with a minute to play that put Florida back ahead 67-65, but Rodriguez answered on the other end. Carter had a chance to respond, but he was called for a charge in the lane with 3 seconds to play.
“It’s been a re-occurring theme,” said Florida forward Jon Horford, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. “We haven’t been as strong in the second half for whatever reason and I’m not sure what that is.”
Florida was down four players in all. Guard Dillon Graham left the team Saturday and intends to transfer, and former Duke forward Alex Murphy has to sit out another eight games before becoming eligible under NCAA transfer rules.
Finney-Smith missed the game because of two hairline fractures in the index and middle fingers on his left, non-shooting hand. Finney-Smith had been cleared to play Monday, but his hand swelled when casted and became really painful.
The short-handed Gators started walk-on Jacob Kurtz, who finished with six points and eight rebounds.
Florida’s bigger problem was its second-half defense. Donovan ripped his team last week because of shaky defense, saying the Gators weren’t “remotely close” to deserving their lofty ranking.
It showed Monday. The Hurricanes shot 65 percent in the second half and 70 percent from 3-point range.
“I was surprised we were even in the game like we were,” Donovan said. “I thought our effort really kept us in the game. When we lost that intensity, I think their talent level took over.”
Miami: The Hurricanes played at Florida for the first time since losing in the 2009 NIT. They improved to 7-29 all-time against the Gators in Gainesville, including 2-1 during Donovan’s 19-year tenure. ... Miami’s Jim Larranaga faced Florida as George Mason’s coach in the 2006 Final Four.
Florida: The Gators will play the back end of the home-and-home series in Miami next year. ... Former Florida players Teddy Dupay and Major Parker were on hand for the game.
Miami plays Drexel in the Gildan Charleston Classic on Thursday
Florida hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Friday