The Arizona Wildcats gave it their all in a hostile road environment against a nationally ranked foe in the Florida Gators, but turnovers and offensive rebounds would plague UA as they fell 78-72. The Wildcats played well enough to win, but the team simply did not execute down the stretch.
Arizona led 33-32 at the half and had a sizable lead throughout most of the second half. Jesse Perry led with 23 points and seven rebounds, and hit a career-high three 3-pointers against a tough UF defense. Kyle Fogg finished with 19 points, while Kevin Parrom ended with 13 in his first start of the season. Nick Johnson, who was forced to play point guard due to Josiah Turner's selfish suspension, struggled from the floor and ended with just five points on nine shots.
The Gators dominated the paint with Patric Young and the big man could not be stopped. He ended with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and influenced numerous shots on the defensive end. Erving Walker (14) and Mike Rosario (10) were the only two to score in double figures.
UA trailed 66-63 with 3.9 seconds left. Solomon Hill received the inbounds pass and was able to get into a shooting motion before being fouled. Hill, a junior, stepped to the free throw line and was unfazed as he knocked down all three free throws to tie the game. Kenny Boynton raced down the floor for Florida, but missed the shot to send the game into overtime.
Arizona turned the ball over four times in OT and missed four free throws. Add these two factors with the Wildcats not being able to get a call with an SEC refereeing crew officiating the game -- they called 12 more fouls on UA than they did for UF -- and it's easy to see why the team fell apart down the stretch.
Despite the loss, this was still the best game Arizona had played this season, and they did so without their starting point guard. Sean Miller has this team in the right direction.