The Florida Gators are the reigning NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions. They are ranked #2 in the Associated Press men’s basketball poll. They are known for outscoring their opponents by sinking 3 point shots. None of those things intimidated the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks. Although they lost 79-72, the young Hogs, who have no seniors on their team roster, refused to go down without a fight.
Playing in front of a sell-out crowd in Gainesville, Taurean Green led Florida with 17 points, while teammate Corey Brewer scored 13. Both juniors, Green and Brewer were members of the team who made history at the University of Florida by being the first squad to win the NCAA tournament. The Gators returned all 5 starters from last year.
Jumping out to an early 12 point lead, Florida struggled throughout the game to hold off the tenacious Razorbacks. This could have been in part because 6’11” Junior, Joakim Noah and 6’10” Junior, Al Horford were both on the bench with two fouls each.
Arkansas Junior, Darian Townes led the Arkansas’ bench with 18 points and Sonny Weems added 13; as Stan Heath’s Razorback’s managed to bring the score to within 1 as the first half ended. The Hogs went to the locker room trailing 37-36.
Florida also became the first school in NCAA history to have both basketball and football National Champions in the same year. At halftime of the basketball game, the Florida Gator Football team brought home their BCS trophy and presented it to the school. Their celebration only seemed to heighten the intensity of the Razorbacks. They came onto the floor for the 2nd half ready to play.
Patrick Beverly, a true freshman, swished a 3 pointer to put the Hogs ahead 54-53 with 10:30 left in the game. Despite their best efforts, Arkansas couldn’t hold on to that lead. Beverly, the teams’ leading scorer was held to just 10 points. Gary Ervin, a junior transfer student added 11, and had 9 assists against the Gators.
The Razorbacks shot 66% from the free throw line; but just 13% of the 3 pointers that were put up actually went in. Florida sank only 58% of their free throws; but was 37% at the 3 point line; although they missed 4 shots from the arc in the 2nd half.
Gator Senior Lee Humphrey sealed the fate of the Arkansas Razorbacks by scoring 6 of his 11 points in the last six minutes of the game.
Up next for Arkansas is a trip to Oxford, Mississippi where the Hogs will take on the Ole’ Miss Rebels. Florida, also on the road plays the Gamecocks of South Carolina. Both games will take place on Saturday, January 13th.