7:00 PM ET, December 10, 2013
Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- As Scottie Wilbekin jogged off the court, students chanted his name.
It was a feel-good moment for a senior who was suspended to start the season and struggled in last week's loss at No. 9 Connecticut.
Wilbekin scored a career-high 18 points, Dorian Finney-Smith added 15 and No. 19 Florida held on to beat No. 13 Kansas 67-61 on Tuesday night.
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The Gators bounced back from a buzzer-beater loss against the Huskies and extended their home winning streak to 21 games. The latest victory came in the Big 12-SEC Challenge and surely will be meaningful when the NCAA tournament seeds are settled in March.
"It just feels like we're coming together as a whole," Wilbekin said.
Wilbekin, who injured his right ankle against UConn eight days ago, made seven of 12 shots and added six assists. It was a much better performance than his previous game, in which he had more turnovers (three) than assists (two).
Some of his best work Tuesday came in the second half as Kansas kept slicing into Florida's lead. Wilbekin had a teardrop runner, a driving layup and a three-point play.
"We were teetering there a little bit," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "He made some plays that really helped our team."
Freshman Andrew Wiggins led the Jayhawks (6-3) with 26 points and 11 rebounds -- his first double-double and both career highs. Kansas has lost two straight, both on the road.
This one wasn't nearly as heart-breaking as Saturday's loss at Colorado, which hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win 75-72.
The Gators (7-2) went on a 21-0 run and led by as many as 18 points in the first half.
"I think we should have had an electrical shortage and canceled the game after (leading 10-3)," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We made a couple of shots and played pretty well the first four or five minutes. But we were awful after that. ... That was not a good team playing there at all, and when things started to go bad, we didn't do anything to stop it. That was frustrating."
Self called several timeouts but couldn't do anything to stop Florida's momentum.
Surely Florida's four senior starters and playing at home were factors, especially when pitted against Kansas' young and inexperienced lineup.
"I'm not sure young guys have ever faced a situation like that," Gators center Patric Young said. "We've been blown out before. We've blown people out before. We know both sides of the spectrum. ... We did a great job turning them over."
The Jayhawks committed 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes -- as many as they had in any other game this season.
"We've got to get everyone playing together," Self said. "I can't blame it all on youth. ... A lot of it may be youth, but I think we can still play better individually."
Kansas clawed its way out of the huge hole and made it 60-55 on Wiggins' 3-pointer with 55.8 seconds remaining. It was his second 3 in the final 1:20.
Florida closed it out from the free-throw line -- barely.
The Gators made 20 of 34 free throws, including nine of their final 11.
Kansas got it as close as 65-61 with 10.9 seconds left. Florida's Kasey Hill ended any chance of a comeback by draining two free throws.
Aside from Wiggins, who made seven of 15 shots, Kansas had no one else score in double figures.
The biggest issue for the Jayhawks was 24 turnovers. Many of those came in the decisive early run.
The Gators, who missed six of their first seven shots in the game, got hot from the field. Hill, returning to the rotation after missing the previous four games with a high-ankle sprain, got the spurt going with a driving layup.
Wilbekin had a 3-pointer, a floater in the lane and a driving bank shot in the huge run.
Finney-Smith and Young came up big, too. Finney-Smith, the former Virginia Tech starter who is finding his niche in Gainesville, hit two 3-pointers. And Young was a beast in the paint and on the boards.
Young's three-point play gave Florida a 32-14 lead with 4:14 remaining in the first half.
But for everything the Gators did on the offensive end of the court, they were even better on defense.
Donovan had his team playing a 1-3-1 zone for much of the game, with big men on the wings and the team's best defender, Wilbekin, running the baseline. It forced poor shots and mistakes.
"I think anything that could go wrong went wrong," Self said. "It's just sad that you have to get down like that before you come out and play with reckless abandonment."
GAINESVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 10: Patric Young #4 of the Florida Gators attempts a shot against Joel Embiid #21 of...(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||19-44 (.432)||20-54 (.370)|
|3P Made-Attempted||8-19 (.421)||7-14 (.500)|
|FT Made-Attempted||15-19 (.789)||20-34 (.588)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||25 (0/0)||19 (0/0)|
|» Dec 10, 2013||@FLA 67, KU 61||Recap|
Next 5 Games
--Florida scored a season-high 28 points off 24 Kansas turnovers Tuesday, the second-most points off turnovers Kansas has allowed in a game in the last three seasons. --Florida has a defensive goal of 0.90 points or fewer per possession allowed. The Gators came close to reaching their goal Tuesday, limiting Kansas to 61 points on 64 possessions (0.95 points per possession). Entering Tuesday, 24 teams were allowing 0.90 points or fewer per possession this season, and Florida had allowed 0.92 points per possession. --Florida also has an offensive goal of 1.15 points or more per possession. The Gators fell short of their goal against the Jayhawks, averaging 1.05 points per possession. The Gators are now 7-0 this season when they average more than a point per possession, and 0-2 when they do not.
Kansas grabbed 11 offensive rebounds Tuesday, but shot 0-for-6 from the field on second-chance field goals. The Jayhawks' four second-chance points (all from the FT line) tied their season low. Coming into the game, Kansas had averaged 11.3 second-chance points per game, tied for second-fewest among Big 12 teams.
Kansas struggled against Florida's zone defense Tuesday, making just 4-of-15 shots and turning it over on 9 of 18 possessions.[+]
Kansas Offense, Tuesday
The Jayhawks are averaging 22.2 fewer points per game during their last 4 games compared with their first 5, struggling against a tough schedule. They started the season 5-0, scoring at least 80 points in every game, including a win over Duke when they scored a season-high 94.[+]
Kansas This Season
After falling behind 10-3 early in the first half, Florida went on a 21-0 run over a span of more than seven minutes. The Gators used a zone defense during the majority of the run, limiting Kansas to 0-for-4 from the field and forcing 4 turnovers with the zone.[+]
21-0 Florida Run, Tuesday
The Gators went on a 21-0 run in the 1st half, holding Kansas scoreless for over 8 minutes of game time.[+]
Gators 21-0 Run in 1st Half
ESPN Stats & Information