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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

HALFTIME: No. 5 Florida 32, No. 8 Arizona 29

The defense of No. 5 Florida was too much for most of the first half, but the No. 8 Arizona men’s basketball team used a late 8-0 run to cut the Gators halftime lead to 32-29 at the McKale Center.

The top-10 teams traded shots early before Florida used a 9-0 run to take the first true lead of the game, 14-7. The Gator’s full court press forced Arizona to make several mistakes throughout the first half, with the Wildcats turning it over eight times.

Arizona had yet to face an opponent as talented as Florida, and the inexperience showed as the Gators controlled most of the first half with strong play on the defensive end. UF led by double digits as the first period of play was winding down, but back-to-back threes from guard Nick Johnson and a breakway dunk by forward Solomon Hill brought the Wildcats back into it.

The Wildcats shot 9-for-22 in the half, and 3-for-9 from three, but were able to get to the line and convert with 8-for-8 shooting.

Coming into the game Arizona had been one of the nation’s best teams from three point range, but the Wildcats failed to find their stroke in the opening half. After an early three by senior Mark Lyons, the UA missed its next six from beyond the arc.

Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring with eight points on 2-for-5 shooting. Senior Mark Lyons added seven points but struggled at breaking the full court press. Hill chipped in six points of his own, including four free throws.

Florida’s seniors Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy were the leading scorers for the Gators. Rosario attacked the rim well and scored nine points while the sharpshooting big man in Murphy had 10 points.

Saturday’s game is the Wildcats first regular season matchup against a top-10 team since an 87-79 loss to No. 6 Kansas in Nov. 2010. It’s also the first time two top-10 teams have gone head-to-head in the McKale Center since Jan. 2004 when No. 4 Stanford beat No. 3 Arizona 82-72 in Tucson.

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