This may have been the perfect good team for the Wildcats to play at this time.
Florida was a Top 10 team entering the season, but after two early season losses they found themselves searching for a defining victory. Arizona, a Top 20 team to start the season, has experienced a very similar start and traveled to Gainesville to try and learn something about themselves.
Both teams were still in search of an early season defining game, this did just that, for both teams.
What they learned is that they can be as resilient a team in the country, despite numerous reasons to throw in the towel early in the season.
The game started off slow as the Wildcats fell behind 7-14 in the first nine minutes of the game only to battle back behind Kevin Parrom, Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg. That trio combined for 55 points, 8 assists, 15 rebounds and 8 made three’s which amounted for over 50% of the teams production in each category. Those three were able to step up in big spots to keep Arizona in the game and even to take a sizeable seven point lead with 6:13 to go in the game.
From that point the overall talent for the Gators took over and allowed them to outscore the Wildcats 14-4 and take a three-point lead with only five seconds left.
At that point Fogg and Parrom had been the team’s best shooters and Nick Johnson had been making the plays, instead of turning to one of them, the Wildcats leaned on a struggling team leader. Off the inbounds pass, forward Solomon Hill made the instinctive decision to turn into his defender (Casey Prather) behind the three-point line to earn the potentially game tying free-throws. Cool as can be Hill delivered all three foul shots to send the game to overtime against the No. 12 team in country.
In overtime the Gators turned up the heat and shut-down the Wildcats only allowing five total points and giving up the same amount of field-goals as forced turnovers, two.
This game showed gutty performances from both teams and will be the game that defines eaches non-conference season. Florida was able to close out a game verse a quality opponent unlike their previous efforts against Ohio State and Syracuse. Patric Young was a problem down low and exposed the Wildcats biggest question mark entering conference play, quality low post play.
Arizona showed they can play with the big boys with this strong effort in a tough environment in Florida. The team is coming together behind the play of Johnson, Fogg, Parrom, Hill and Perry with Jordin Mayes as a wildcard. Without more of a showing from Angelo Chol (17 minutes) and Kyryl Natyazhko (2 minutes) if they expect to stop anyone in the paint this season.
Just like every game this season, the Wildcats continue to show growth and flash moments of being a Top 25 team. Then in the same game their youth and flaws sneak in there to thwart them from an all-around performance.
• Josiah Turner did not play after being suspended for reportedly missing a practice
• Arizona suited up and played only nine players, eight of which say 10+ minutes
• Kyle Fogg knocked down 3+ three’s for the fourth time this season
• Solomon Hill fouled out in overtime and scored under 10 points for only the third time this season