Rapid Reaction: Arizona Rallies to Clip Florida on Lyons Game-Winner

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Twitter recap: UF leads for 38 minutes, Zona steals game in final seconds on Lyons runner. Sloppy finish. Gator bigs dominate paint. Boynton absent…again

Déjà vu. About an hour after the McKale Center crowd paid a halftime tribute to the Arizona football team—which rallied from two touchdowns down in the final 46 seconds to edge Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl earlier on Saturday—the basketball players honored the comeback by putting on their own rendition. The hoopsters overcame a six-point deficit in the final minute, marking the second improbable Wildcats comeback in one day. Both teams led for a combined 1:44 and came away with a scintillating sweep.

Dec 15, 2012; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Mark Lyons (2) elevates for the last shot during the second half against the Florida Gators at McKale Center. The Wildcats beat the Gators 65-64. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Déjà vu deux. The flashbacks weren’t so kind to the Gators, who relived haunting memories of their last two Elite Eight losses. In each of those games—first against Butler and then against Louisville—Florida squandered an 11-point lead with less than ten minutes to play. Sure enough, the Gators nursed another dreaded 11-point advantage on Saturday at Tucson, this time with 9:59 to play, only to get outscored 22-10 over those final nine minutes and change. Let the number 11 hereon be dubbed the Florida kryptonite.

Late game (mis)execution. Outside of Arizona’s semi-scare in Clemson last weekend and against Southern Miss at home, this was the first closely contested game for either team. It showed. Florida entered action sporting a 25-point average margin of victory while Arizona owned a 20-point mark, though Saturday’s one-point thriller will put a dent into both of those figures. Both teams—particularly Arizona in the first half—were careless with the basketball for much of the night, a problem accentuated in the game’s closing minutes. The Gators turned the ball over three separate times in the final minute, struggling just to in-bound the ball against Arizona’s full-court pressure. The Wildcats, meanwhile, forced numerous ill-advised bombs with the game still within reach. Somehow, their poor shot selection in crunch time didn’t come back to haunt them. What, by the way, was Billy Donovan saving his timeouts for at the end of the game? I’m generally against using a timeout at the end of a game—eitheroff a made basket or a miss—as it allows the defense to get settled. But Florida had absolutely no order to its frenzied final shot attempt. The Gators didn’t even get one off, in part because Donovan never spent a timeout while there was still time on the clock and his players resembled deer in headlights.

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