Torched by an Angel: Canes shock 8th ranked Gators in Gainesville

It was just another typical day in the O’Dome. Florida was crushing an inferior opponent, and appeared to be very much on their way to their 34th consecutive home victory.

Then along came Angel Rodriguez, who exploded for 22 seconds half points. And in a flash, the seemingly comfortable 54-40 lead the Gators had built over Miami was gone- just like the Gators’ aura of invincibility at home.

You’re damned right that sounds familiar. The Gators made this a habit two years ago. Going up by double digits and then blowing it in the end was the trademark of the 2012-13 Florida team. Big leads against Arizona, Missouri, Kentucky and Mississippi wasted, and a disappointed locker room instead of the joyous one the players unanimously but prematurely expected to enter. Defensive collapses. Going cold and faltering down the stretch on offense. We’ve seen it all before, and it never fails to frustrate me to no end. Giving up 48 points in the second half isn’t going to win many games, bottom line.

Part of was just a good player getting really hot at the right time, granted. Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez simply couldn’t be stopped. He hit several key threes, some of which came with a defender right in his face, to pull Miami back into it… and for that you just have to shake his hand and say “good game”. Not every team is going to shoot 50% from three point range, including 70% in the second half. Rodriguez and the Hurricanes just couldn’t miss.

But Rodriguez also wouldn’t have won the game for the Canes without the help he got from Kasey Hill, who committed two incredibly foolish fouls that should have never been committed. On one, he fouled Rodriguez shooting an off balance three, and on the other, he fouled a dribbling Rodriguez 40 feet away from the hoop. Those are the fouls that Billy Donovan will not tolerate.

So combine all of that, and this one stings. Badly. Florida seems to be cursed against Miami in recent years, having lost in football last year and now in basketball at home, where the Gators never lose. We just can’t ever get that sweep of our two in-state rivals, something we haven’t done in basketball since 2005-06. So yes, I’m extremely irritated by the loss. I’m frustrated.

But at the same time, the consequences of losing this game are minimal. Florida was playing without Dorian Finney-Smith, Chris Walker and Alex Murphy. That’s two starters the Gators were missing, and the third- Murphy- will at the very least get some significant playing time. And go look at the Gators’ upcoming schedule: with the Battle 4 Atlantis (in which the Gators will play Georgetown, either UAB or Wisconsin, and either UNC/UCLA/Butler/Oklahoma), road trips to Kansas and Florida State, a rematch with UConn, and two games against Kentucky give Florida plenty of opportunities to bolster their resume.

The worst part about this loss is the simple irritation that comes with it. We don’t get to claim that we’re “state champions”. We cede some bragging rights to a team that we own 45-23, five Final Fours to none and two national championships to none. And none doesn’t even come close to describing Miami’s historical futility on the hardwood.

Of course, there’s a lot of work to do. But Billy Donovan has proven to be more than capable of getting his team to do that work in the past, and while this is far from his best team, even once we get Walker, Murphy and Finney-Smith back, I’m confident that he’ll turn this team into a much better one than the team we saw tonight.

I’ll leave you with this. Florida has now lost the second game of its season in four of the last five years. And as we all know, the Gators have gone to the Elite Eight in each of the last four seasons. That’s how much this game matters in the long run.

5 thoughts on “Torched by an Angel: Canes shock 8th ranked Gators in Gainesville

  1. I wouldn’t call the loss shocking based on only having 6 scholarship guys available. But you are right about how losing to this particular school just plain sucks.

  2. You can rest assured, Jeremy Foley, that I will never again spend a single penny on a ticket to a Florida-Miami game. I attended the 2001 Sugar Bowl, 2002 game in the Swamp, 2003 game in the Orange Bowl, 2004 Peach Bowl, 2005 basketball game in Gainesville, the 2013 football game in South Florida, the first of the three game baseball series in 2013 at McKethan Stadium and tonight’s game in the O’Dome. I am now 0-8 spending my money on a ticket to a University of Florida vs. University of Miami athletic contest. That’s right. I have gone to eight UF-Miami games in my life, and have not seen one win. And I’m tired of it.

    I thought, “Well, Florida’s #8, Miami’s not ranked, we never lose at home, this is the perfect opportunity to finally get a win”. Nah. Once again, the Gators fucked me over. Thanks so much, Kasey Hill. Nice fouls at the end there. You’re a phenomenal player, and I have no doubt that you’re going to explode in future games. You’ll probably go off against Connecticut or Kansas. But of course you had to blow it against Miami. Of course THIS was the game you had to lose for us.

    The weird thing is that Florida usually wins when I go to watch them play, even when they’re not supposed to. I was at the WLOCP in 2002, 2003, and this year, Ron Zook Field, and the Sweet 16 against Marquette a few years ago. So I usually get to see wins. Just not ever against Miami. And so I’m done.

  3. I’m not worried. Nice stat to close it out. For that reason alone, I’m even more at peace with this loss than I was last night. I’m a thrower- I hit my girlfriend with a water bottle on a ricochet during the Sugar Bowl a few years ago- but I somehow knew last night we would lose, and because of the circumstances, I was OK with it.

  4. Hill’s got to play better down the stretch, but Frazier really cooled off. He finished the game something like 0-5. I know that last shot was a tough one but if he makes even one more open look the game is over that way too. But if, if, if. We lost, and we have to deal with it. And I have confidence we will.

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