VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Betting Tools

Florida failing to close out close games

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida coach Billy Donovan calls it ``media drama.''

Everyone else, including his players, see the 14th-ranked Gators as having something to prove as they head onto college basketball's biggest stage.

Florida, the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament's South Region, can't seem to close out close games. The Gators are 0-6 in games decided by six points or less this season, including 0-4 the last month.

The list includes three losses in which Florida led by at least seven points in the second half.

Missouri overcame a 13-point deficit to beat the Gators 63-60 on Feb. 19. Kentucky held Florida scoreless for the final 7-plus minutes en route to a 61-57 victory on March 9. And Mississippi battled back from 12-point halftime hole to knock off Donovan's team in the Southeastern Conference championship game Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

And those are just the recent ones. The Gators (26-7) had another late collapse at Arizona in mid-December. They also ended the last two seasons in similar fashion: blowing double-digit leads against Louisville (2012) and Butler (2011) in NCAA tournament regional finals.

``There's plenty of games where we've had reasonable leads and there just seemed like a point where we went dead or allowed the team to come back with no resistance,'' center Patric Young said Monday. ``It is fair to say that. It's probably a problem with the team, something that we've been trying to get fixed. I'll say we did a better job last game of fighting and trying to persevere through. We just didn't finish plays.''

Donovan understands the perception, but he insists his team has created its own problems with poor defense and costly turnovers down the stretch. He believes his guys are confident and taking good shots with the game on the line.

Nonetheless, the misses are adding up as Florida prepares to play 14th-seeded Northwestern State in the opening round Friday in Austin, Texas.

``We need someone to step up and be a leader,'' Young said. ``Just to make sure that when we come back out that we're focused on doing our jobs, making sure that we're locked in and we're not going to give in no matter what the other team throws at us, that we're still going to keep fighting and doing our jobs defensively.''

It would be easy to argue that Florida shouldn't have these issues.

After all, Donovan has three seniors and two juniors in his starting lineup - including guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario. Boynton has started 138 games over the last four years, including nine in the NCAA tournament, and probably should be the team's go-to guy.

But Boynton is averaging a career-low 12.3 points this season and shooting just 27 percent from 3-point range over the last nine games.

As for his teammates? Well, it's tough to hand the ball to Young or forward Will Yeguete in crunch time since neither is a good free-throw shooter. Young, hitting 49.6 percent this season, missed 11 of 17 from the charity stripe in the SEC tournament. Yeguete has been slightly better, connecting on 58.8 percent.

And Donovan doesn't seem to trust point guard Scottie Wilbekin or Rosario. They ranked first and second on the team in turnovers, and although both can create their own shots, Donovan acknowledges that they usually won't be good ones.

That leaves Murphy, who got the call against the Rebels. Trailing 65-63 with about 20 seconds to play, Donovan drew up a play for Murphy in the post. He missed, and the SEC regular-season champs failed to claim the tournament title.

``If that happens again, I have to try to make the play again, whether it's for me or one of my teammates,'' said Murphy, a first-team All-SEC selection by The Associated Press. ``I want to be in that situation, and it's something I've accepted.''

Still, tightening up in the next tight game could happen. And if the Gators don't find a way to win a close one, a team with its sights set on making the Final Four could be exciting the NCAA tournament earlier than expected.

``Yeah, it's going to happen again,'' Donovan said. ``They're going to have to make the plays they need to make. Do I see our guys petrified? Scared? Uptight? Nervous? No. They have to make those plays.''

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Edwards: Wednesday's Wagers
Edwards: Sweet 16 Primer
Nelson: Sweet 16 - West Regional
Intertops: Thursday's S16 Best Bets
Bookmaker: Teams to Watch - Sweet 16
Nelson: Sweet 16 - East Regional
News: 2018 NCAA Tournament Results
Bamba leaving school for NBA draft
Oklahoma's Trae Young leaving for NBA
Why Buy Picks From
NCAA BK College Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NCAA BK Hot Streaks
13-0 L6 Days, 24-2 Run, 8-1 GPlays
13-5 L5 Days, 24-9 L33, +6,258 TY
3-0 Picks, 9-1 L10 Guarantees
10-1 G-Play Run, 11-5 L16 Picks
2-0 LN, 16-5 Run, 4-0 L4 Totals
14-4 L18 G-Plays, 31-15 L46 Picks
6-2 L8, 9-3 L12, 60-31 Streak
7-1 L8 Guaranteed Plays
14-4 L8 Days, 6-2 L8 G-Plays
3-1 LN, +5,938 Totals, +3,341 TY
2-0 Yesterday, 19-8 L27 Totals
5-2 L7 G-Plays, 19-9 L28 Picks
3-1 Sunday, 7-3 Picks, 16-7 G-Plays
4-1 L3 Days, 4-2 L6 Guarantees
6-2 L8 G-Plays, 26-15 L41 Picks
22-10 L32 Picks, 13-5 L18 G-Plays
7-3 L10 Totals, 15-8 L23 G-Plays
+3,678 Totals This Year
12-6 L18 Picks, 23-10 L33 G-Plays
+3,594 CBK Over/Unders TY
5-1 L6 Guaranteed Plays
3-1 Monday, +2,200 This Year
NCAA Tournament College Basketball Expert Sports Picks - Utah Utes at St. Mary's Gaels
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 6258
Antony Dinero + 3341
Kyle Hunter + 2862
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 1435
Jim Feist + 1390
ASA + 1067
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Marc Lawrence 58 %
Joe Nelson 58 %
Bruce Marshall 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2611
Jimmy Boyd + 1460
Joe Nelson + 1455
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 5938
Kyle Hunter + 3678
Micah Roberts + 3594
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3949
Bruce Marshall + 3332
Micah Roberts + 1589
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership