Keith McDougald was staring down a couple of key free throws late in overtime against the No. 20 team in the country.
Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren was confident the freshman would knock them down. So was McDougald.
He scored a career-high 18 points and Delwan Graham added two critical baskets to lead Jacksonville to a 71-68 upset of No. 20 Florida on Monday.
”Coach Warren told me that I was going to make the free throws and when I was at the free throw line I just believed I was going to make them and they went in,” McDougald said. ”No nerves at all.”
Florida was back in the AP poll after dropping out two weeks ago. The Gators started the season ranked ninth but slipped down the rankings until dropping out following their loss to Central Florida on Dec. 1 in Orlando.
”We were totally ripe to be beat,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. ”I’m not sure we could have beat anybody tonight. And that’s not taking anything away from Jacksonville, because their kids did a great job.”
McDougald hit both ends of a one-and-one with 31.8 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Dolphins (7-3) a 69-66 lead and hit two more with 17.1 seconds remaining.
”He was very, very confident,” Warren said. ”He talked about it in the huddle, ‘I’m going to make the free throws Coach. Just get me open.’ Very confident.”
It was Jacksonville’s first victory over Florida since Dec. 21, 1994 and the Dolphins’ ninth victory in 33 meetings with the Gators.
Graham helped set up McDougald’s icing free throws with two baskets in the final 1:30. Both gave the Dolphins one-point leads. He finished with 10 points.
Florida (8-3) got a season-high 21 points from Erving Walker and double-doubles by Vernon Macklin (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Alex Tyus (10 points, 11 rebounds).
Russell Powell hit a jumper to give Jacksonville a 63-61 lead, but the Dolphins ended their next two possessions with shot clock violations. UF got three free throws from Walker to go ahead 64-63, but Hardy delivered another steal when he knocked the ball away from Kenny Boynton. McDougald missed a layup but Graham grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to put the Dolphins ahead.
”I knew that Florida’s big men had a little bit more size than us but I knew I had to go in extra hard on the rebound and the ball fell in my hands when I went in there,” Graham said.
After Florida’s Vernon Macklin scored on a tip-in, Graham hit short jumper to put Jacksonville ahead to stay with 54 seconds to play.
”Just even to get the basketball, to block out, to attack the basket, I thought was huge,” Warren said. ”Delwan Graham, he just plays with a lot of confidence.”
Jacksonville’s Ayron Hardy tied the game at 61 with 20.1 seconds left when he stole the ball from Chandler Parsons and dunked.
Hardy finished with 12 points and Russell Powell scored 13 for Jacksonville.