Florida leads 37-31
Somehow, someway the Huskies are only down 6. The offense, which struggled against Temple, has been passable. UConn has hit on 42% of their shots, but it's been the 8 turnovers that have been the problem. Florida has thrown a full court press at UConn for much of the half, and the heavy pressure really got to the UConn guards. Ryan Boatright seems to be the only player that can handle it and Florida has exploited that. The game plan clearly was to get the ball out of his hands. Boatright was UConn's leading scorer in the half with 8 points. In support, UConn got 7 points from Daniel Hamilton and 6 from Terrence Samuel.
Florida has been in control for most of the opening 20 minutes. Their pressing action turned UConn over 8 times, leading to 10 points. Dorian Finney-Smith leads all scorers with 10. Florida's offense has generated open look after open look, but they've been unable to capitalize. Quite frankly, this should be a double digit lead for the Gators, but their struggles at the foul line has held them back. The Gators are 6-12 from the foul line. Also, they've missed 9 three point attempts, most of them were wide open.
IN order to get back in it, UConn needs to clean it up at the defensive end. Rodney Purvis and Hamilton in particular need to pay more attention to their men along the perimeter, those wide open shots are bound to fall in the second half. This is a much needed resume booster for both teams and it's looking like it will come down to the wire. Who wants it more? We're about to find out
This afternoon, the University of Connecticut (6-5) and the University of Florida (7-5) will meet up for the third time in a little over a year. The first matchup was at Gampel Pavilion. It was a back and forth game that ended with a Shabazz Napier buzzer beater. The next meeting came in the Final Four. Florida jumped out to an early lead, but then Napier and Ryan Boatright kicked their defense into overdrive to lock down the Gators as UConn advanced to the National Championship.
This time, the two sides meet in Gainseville and the Gators have revenge on their mind. A year ago, Florida went on a 30-game win streak that was bookended by losses by UConn. These teams are a far cry from that level this year. Both enter coming off losses, UConn to Temple and Florida to Florida State.
Both teams have left their fan bases desiring more. Today should be a highly competitive contest, but something will be missing. UConn's Ryan Boatright, the leading scorer in the AAC, did not play the second half against Temple with a deep thigh contusion. He was out warming up in the pre-game but how healthy he will be is unknown. If Boatright is even the slightest bit limited, the Husky offense will struggle.
The Gators are led by junior guard Michael Frazier II. He comes in averaging over 14 ppg and 4 rpg, up from last season. His backcourt mate, Dorian Finney-Smith, is averaging over 12 ppg. The key in beating Florida will be how well UConn can neutralize their guards. Kevin Ollie's game plan will likely have Boatright hounding Frazier and then guard Finney-Smith by committee. Look for Terrence Samuel to get a lot of run today, as Rodney Purvis struggled mightily vs Temple.
When the schedule came out, everyone had this game circled. Although both teams have struggled to live up to the successes of last season, there is a sense of grandeur around this game. Florida has a score to settle and UConn has a mental edge due to past success. This should be a fun one.