Franz Beard: Thoughts of the Day

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: MARCH 7, 2019

“He who hesitates is lost.” – English essayist Joseph Addison, 1713

With three seconds remaining in overtime and the Florida Gators (17-13, 9-8 SEC) trailing 10th-ranked LSU (25-5, 15-2 SEC), KeVaughn Allen had the ball in the left corner but instead of launching a 3-pointer he hesitated for a split second then put the ball on the floor. Driving into LSU’s tall tree defenders, Allen didn’t get a shot off in time, allowing LSU to escape with a 79-78 win that puts the Gators back on the NCAA Tournament bubble once again.

Originally, the last shot was designed to go to Jalen Hudson, who had torched LSU for 33 points. There was plenty of time (7.2 seconds remaining) when the Gators inbounded to Hudson but he slipped as he tried to dribble at the top of the key. He did tap the ball over to Keyontae Johnson who flipped it into the corner to Allen, who was open but lacked the confidence to try to win it with a jumper. Allen was 1-6 from the field for the game and 0-3 from the 3-point line on what turned out to be a Senior Night to forget. Since the TCU game, he’s 15-68 (22%) on his 3-point attempts.

Of course, it should have never come down to a game-winning shot in overtime. Hudson had bombed in a 3-ball from the left corner with 6.2 seconds to go to put Florida out front, 72-70. Following a timeout, LSU inbounded the ball to Tremont Waters who went coast-to-coast to lay the ball in with 0.5 seconds left. Waters would have never gotten the shot off if any of the Gators had even attempted to cut him off once he cleared midcourt.

One hesitation and one failure to at least get in the way of a guard hellbent on winning the game are all that stood in the way of the Gators locking up their place in the NCAA Tournament, but like so many times this year the Gators missed key shots or failed to come up with defensive stops when needed most.

Take a moment and digest this. The Gators have lost 13 times this season with seven of those losses by seven or fewer points. All those games were quite winnable but for the sake of argument, let’s say the Gators went 4-3 in those games. If that were the case, Florida would be 21-9 right now and instead of sweating out their postseason fate, they would find themselves likely to be seeded somewhere between #5 and #7.

Now, if the Gators could somehow knock off 6th-ranked Kentucky (25-5, 14-3 SEC) at Rupp Arena Saturday, they are all but assured of making the NCAA Tournament. A loss, however, means they may need to win twice at the SEC Tournament next week in Nashville.

Game notes: Hudson scored 25 of Florida’s last 27 points in regulation … Keyontae Johnson scored 15 points and Noah Locke had 10. Senior Kevarrius Hayes finished his O-Dome career with 8 points and 15 rebounds to go with 2 blocked shots and 3 steals … Hudson went 4-9 from the 3-point line while Locke and Johnson each went 2-4. The rest of the Florida team hit 1-8 … The Gators shot 9-28 (32.1%) from the field in the first half but 60% (15-25) in the second … After allowing LSU to shoot 50% from the field in the first half, the Gators held the Tigers to 14-37 (37.8%) in the second half … LSU outscored Florida 44-26 in the paint and 20-8 on second chance points.

Wednesday’s SEC scores
#10 LSU (25-5, 15-2 SEC) 79, FLORIDA (17-13, 9-8 SEC) 78, OT
Missouri (14-15, 5-12 SEC) 64, Georgia (11-19, 2-15 SEC) 39
Arkansas (16-14, 7-10 SEC) 84, Vanderbilt (9-21, 0-17 SEC) 48

Saturday’s SEC games
FLORIDA (17-13, 9-8 SEC) at #6 Kentucky (25-5, 14-3 SEC)
#5 Tennessee (27-3, 15-2 SEC) at Auburn (21-9, 10-7 SEC)
Georgia (11-19, 2-15 SEC) at South Carolina (15-15, 10-7 SEC)
Texas A&M (13-16, 6-11 SEC) at Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8 SEC)
Ole Miss (19-11, 9-8 SEC) at Missouri (14-15, 5-12 SEC)
Alabama (17-13, 8-9 SEC) at Arkansas (15-14, 6-11 SEC)
Vanderbilt (9-21, 0-17 SEC) at #10 LSU (25-5, 15-2 SEC)

BATS GO SILENT AS GATORS FALL TO FGCU, 7-2

A night after the 5th-ranked Gators were hitting rockets off the Florida Gulf Coast pitching staff, the Eagles’ Evan Lumbert had answers. Lumbert pitched 6 perfect innings Wednesday night as FGCU avenged a 15-0 Tuesday night loss with a 7-2 win at McKethan Stadium.

By the time the Gators got their first hit, a leadoff single up the middle by freshman Jacob Young in the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles had built a 7-0 lead off five young (four freshmen and a sophomore) Florida pitchers. The Gators scored twice off Lumbert in the seventh but couldn’t rally further against reliever Hunter McGary, who only gave up an infield single in the bottom of the eighth.

Young was the only Gator with two hits. Freshman Kendrick Calilao had Florida’s only RBI with a single in the seventh.

The Gators (10-5) will be home this weekend to face Yale in the last non-conference weekend series before the SEC schedule kicks in.

EVERY SEC TEAM’S RETURNING O-LINE STARTERS

ALABAMA (2): The Crimson Tide returns RG Alex Leatherwood (6-6, 310, JR) and RT Jedrick Willis (6-5, 316, JR). Alabama averaged 7.76 yards per offensive play and allowed 16 sacks in 15 games in 2018.

ARKANSAS (2): The Razorbacks return LT Colton Jackson (6-5, 301, SR) and C Ty Clary (6-4, 287, JR). Arkansas averaged 4.97 yards per offensive play and gave up 32 sacks in 12 games in 2018.

AUBURN (5): The Tigers return LT Prince Tega Wanogho (6-7, 307, RSR), LG Marquel Harrell (6-3, 307, SR), C Kaleb Kim (6-4, 300, SR), RG Mike Horton (6-4, 324, SR) and RT Jack Driscoll (6-5, 300, GR). Auburn averaged 5.67 yards per offensive play and allowed 23 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

FLORIDA (1): The Gators return C Nick Buchanan (6-2, 301, RSR). Florida averaged 6.23 yards per offensive play and gave up 18 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

GEORGIA (4): The Bulldogs return LT Andrew Thomas (6-5, 320, JR), LG Solomon Kindley (6-4, 335, RJR), RG Cade Mays (6-6, 318 SO) and RT Isaiah Wilson (6-7, 340, RSO). Georgia averaged 7.05 yards per offensive play and gave up 20 sacks in 14 games in 2018.

KENTUCKY (2): The Wildcats return LT E.J. Price (6-6, 305, RJR) and LG Logan Sternberg (6-6, 320 RSR). Kentucky averaged 5.64 yards per offensive play and gave up 28 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

LSU (5): The Tigers return LT Charles Saahdiq (6-5, 305), LG Chasen Hines (6-4, 336, SO), C Lloyd Cushenberry III (6-4, 309, RSO), RG Damien Lewis (6-3, 322, SR) and RT Austin Deculus (6-7, 321, JR). LSU averaged 5.5 yards per offensive play and gave up 35 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (2): The Bulldogs return LG Darryl Williams (6-2, 310, SR) and RT Stewart Reese (6-5, 340, JR). Mississippi State averaged 6.17 yards per offensive play and gave up 25 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

MISSOURI (3): The Tigers return LT Yasir Durant (6-7, 330, SR), C Trystan Colon-Castillo (6-4, 315, RJR) and RG Trevour Wallace-Sims (6-5, 330, SR). Missouri averaged 6.24 yards per offensive play and gave up 13 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

OLE MISS (2): The Rebels return RG Ben Brown (6-5, 315, SO) and RT Alex Givens (6-6, 303, SR). Ole Miss averaged 7.12 yards per offensive play and gave up 32 sacks in 12 games in 2018.

SOUTH CAROLINA (2): The Gamecocks return C Donnell Stanley (6-3, 322, RSR) and RG Sadarius Hutcherson (6-4, 312, RJR) who is moving to LT. South Carolina averaged 6.24 yards per offensive play and gave up 23 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

TENNESSEE (4): The Vols return LT Marcus Tatum (6-6, 293, RJR), LG Jahmir Johnson (6-5, 285, RJR), C Ryan Johnson (6-6, 302, RJR) and RG Nathan Niehaus (6-6, 287, RJR). Tennessee averaged 5.46 yards per offensive play and gave up 23 sacks in 12 games in 2018.

TEXAS A&M (3): The Aggies return LT Dan Moore (6-5, 317, JR), LG Jared Hooker (6-5, 318, JR) and RT Carson Green (6-6, 300, JR). Texas A&M averaged 6.26 yards per offensive play and gave up 35 sacks in 13 games in 2018.

VANDERBILT (2): The Commodores return Saige Young (6-5, 315, SR) and RT Devin Cochran (6-7, 315, RSO). Vanderbilt averaged 6.29 yards per offensive play and allowed 22 sacks in 12 games in 2018.

MORE SEC FOOTBALL STUFF

Ole Miss has hired North Texas defensive coordinator/linebackers coach to coach its linebackers … Not a great day for a couple of former SEC players who had a close encounter with the long arm of the law. Former Georgia defensive back Malkom Parrish was arrested on a felony charge of carrying a weapon in a school safety zone to go with a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct. Former Auburn running back Roc Thomas is facing a felony marijuana charge after 143 grams were found in his apartment along with $16,000 in cash … Arkansas senior linebacker De’Jon Harris will have surgery on his foot Friday and will miss the rest of spring practice. Harris has been in on 233 tackles in the last two seasons at Arkansas … Mississippi State HBC Joe Moorhead says that while Keytaon Thompson has the most experience of his quarterbacks he intends to give redshirt freshman Jalen Mayden and early enrollee freshman Garrett Shrader a long look this spring … Kevin Cosgrove, who has been a defensive coordinator at New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Akron, is leaving his job as New Mexico’s linebackers coach to become a defensive analyst at LSU.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: A former assistant coach to the University of Georgia’s equestrian team says she was harassed by head coach Meghan Boenig and fired because she was pregnant. Alexandra O’Toole details all her claims in a lawsuit filed against the state Board of Regents … ESPN is reporting that several NFL teams have inquired about QB Josh Rosen should the Arizona Cardinals wish to trade him and draft Heisman Trophy QB Kyler Murray with the first pick in May … It is being reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers will trade wide receiver Antonio Brown somewhere on Friday. Oakland, Washington and Tennessee are thought to have the most interest in acquiring Brown … Boston Red Sox knuckleball reliever Steven Wright tested positive for HGH and has been suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball … Phil Mickelson will be teeing off at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill today, marking the first time since 2013 he’s played in the tournament. Tiger Woods, who has won the tournament eight times, won’t be in the field this year due to a neck strain … LeBron James passed Michael Jordan for fourth place on the all-time NBA scoring list Wednesday night. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leader with 38,387 points.