TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With the seconds melting off the clock in Florida’s battle with in-state rival Florida State, UF center John Egbunu heaved a three-pointer from the left wing.
He buried it.
And the 6-foot-11 redshirt junior’s first-career three cut into the Seminoles’ slim lead with 8.3 seconds left.
The effort was futile, though.
On the very next play, FSU freshman Jonathan Isaac was fouled and sent to the line, where he knocked down two free throws to ice the game, giving the Seminoles (10-1) an 83-78 victory over the No. 21 Gators (7-3) on Sunday night.
Guard Kasey Hill had a career game for Florida. The senior lit up the Tucker Center for a career-high 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting and three assists.
However, FSU’s star guard Dwayne Bacon stole the show, as the sophomore poured in a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the second half.
“He’s just really, really talented,” UF coach Mike White said of Bacon. “I thought he broke our defense again early in the second half. He got into a little bit of confidence off the dribble, just making plays.”
Between six lead changes and seven ties, the first half was a back-and-forth affair where neither team could gain the upperhand. Despite 15 points from Hill and 18 points off turnovers, Florida found itself down four with just under 20 seconds left.
However, Hill ripped the ball from FSU guard Trent Forrest and converted a quicky layup with 11 seconds remaining to stifle a 7-0 run by the Seminoles, and the Gators went into the locker room down 36-34.
The second half proved to be a different story.
With about 18 minutes left and the game knotted at 38, Florida State went on a 16-6 run, capped off by a smooth layup by Bacon to give FSU a 56-44 lead near the 14-minute mark.
But the Gators refused to go away, as sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen overcame a three-point, foul-plagued first half to score 12 points across the final 13 minutes.Florida came to within three of the Seminoles’ lead, but after a step-back three by Allen clanged off the side of the rim with 45 seconds remaining, the contest’s outcome became all but decided.“It did look good, you know,” Allen said of the shot. “Still gotta keep shooting it, and keep shooting it with confidence.”For the game, Florida shot 47 percent from the field and scored 25 points off 14 turnovers, but the Gators’ inability to halt a flowing, second-half FSU offense proved fatal.The Seminoles shot 55.2 percent from the field and went 14-of-20 from the free-throw line en route to 47 second-half points. They also pounded Florida on the glass for 42 total rebounds.“I thought they set the tone early in the second half,” White said of FSU. “Florida State was better than us.” Contact Ray Boone at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @rboone1994 .