New uncle sweats through Florida win

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Florida coach Mike White motions to his players during a game against Arkansas on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Florida coach Mike White motions to his players during a game against Arkansas on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.

— Not only did Florida head basketball coach Mike White walk out of Bud Walton Arena with a win Wednesday night, but also as a brand new uncle.

His younger sister Mariah had a baby boy during the game and no doubt both had some nervous times during the night.

“My little sister had a baby during the game,” White said. “Congrats to her, congrats to Mariah… A healthy baby boy named after my father.”

Arkansas native KeVaughn Allen offset a poor-shooting night from the field with an 11-of-12 performance from the free throw line that salted away the Gators’ 57-51 win over the Razorbacks before a crowd of 9,950.

Florida (9-5, 1-1 SEC) led a frigid-shooting Arkansas 48-32 with 7:24 left before the Razorbacks (10-4, 1-1) rallied within 53-51 with just more than a minute remaining.

Mason Jones, who had a career-high 30 points for the Hogs, missed a shot that would have tied the game with 24 seconds left and Allen made all four of his free throws to put the game away.

It was a tough stretch for White, who had watched his team give up a 15-point lead at home to South Carolina and lose.

“I had that pit in my stomach like I did Saturday,” White said. “I felt like we were watching the scoreboard, hoping for an SEC home win and hoping that the clock would run out and you can’t be successful doing that.

“We made enough plays down the stretch, but it was the wrong mentality late in the game for for us both offensively and defensively. I thought KeVaughn and Jalen (Hudson) made enough plays to pull us through. We got a couple of stops there late.

“Credit Mason Jones and the Razorbacks. The decimal level in Bud Walton, it got electric in there and they got us a little bit rattled there, but overall…it was a bounce back after the really hard loss we had Saturday and coming here and having some of the same hurdles to overcome, it feels good. Anytime you can come win here, my goodness we will take it.”

White thought his team puckered up down the stretch and did not have the level of confidence it needed to have.

“It was average and it has got to be better than that,” White said. “We have to be tougher than that. We are starting two freshmen and we play Keyontae Johnson significant minutes, but we are not overly young. Everyone is using a couple or three freshmen. Arkansas is younger than we are. They have got really good young talent and a bunch of them.

“We have got some junior and seniors out there, but we have to play like a more seasoned group.”

He was pleased with the effort and mentality his team had until the Razorback late rub.

“But when we got up 15, we were different,” White said. “Hopefully we will learn from that. We didn’t learn from it Saturday, but hopefully we will from twice in a row. We might not be up 15 again. Hopefully we will be.”

Jones’ two free throws - he was 7-of-13 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line - cut Arkansas’ deficit to 53-51 with 1:02 left.

“(Jones is) a shooter with size and length with a high release, just like Isaiah Joe,” White said. “That was my big point of emphasis coming into the game. To complement Daniel Gafford, they have two guys that release it quick, that release it with size, that have high pockets with their jumpers.

“Those guys, they’re hard to defend and they’ve made a bunch of shots early on in the season, early on in their careers. Mason Jones put on - he had a heck of a performance. Our guys have been pretty good defensively and I’m not sure we’ve given up 30 this year."

After a Florida miss, Jones missed a jumper and Adrio Bailey a point-blank layup with 21 seconds left.

“I just screamed don’t foul a 3 about 87 times in a row,” White said. “…Also we just wanted Harris to extend the game by getting a quick foul if we struggled with the press. Just really wanted to key in on the defensive possession and see if we could get a stop.”

Allen dropped in two more free throws to make it 55-51, Jones missed a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left and Allen set the final score with two more free throws.

The teams combined to miss their first 22 3-pointers of the game. The Gators were 18-of-58 overall shooting, while the Razorbacks were 15-of-50. Both teams hit 6 of 26 3-pointers.

The two worst-free throwing shooting teams in the SEC, Florida was 15-of-19 on charity tosses Wednesday while Arkansas was 15-of-26.

Allen was 3-of-11 from the field and 1-of-9 from 3-point, but his free throws allowed him to pile up a team-high 18 points.

“He was the best player on the court I thought,” White said of Allen. “I say that, Mason Jones was pretty good, but KeVaughn was our best player tonight, if we were to give a game ball, I hope my other guys don’t get sensitive about that. He was really good. And I thought he had a couple of other pretty good looks and if they could have gone down, he would have had really good numbers.

“He handled the ball against pressure, against the noise more so than he has probably in his career. Played with poise, drew fouls and he’s one of the best free throw shooters - in fact he might be the best in the history of our school. He goes 11 of 12 with some big ones going down the stretch.”


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