Michael Frazier II drills 2 late free throws, lifts Florida past Arkansas
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Michael Frazier II could have been feeling sorry for himself.
He’s done it before, all season really.
But despite not getting shots to fall, Frazier stayed involved and made two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining that gave Florida a 57-56 victory over Arkansas on Saturday.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Gators (12-9, 5-3 Southeastern Conference), who won their second straight after a three-game losing streak and got another much-needed resume-booster for the NCAA tournament.
Frazier finished with six points on 2-for-9 shooting, including 0-for-5 from 3-point line. But his play and poise in the final seconds proved to be the difference.
"Just had to stay engaged," Frazier said. "Whenever you have a tough shooting night like that, you have to find other ways to impact the game. That’s what I tried to do. The ball wasn’t going in for me, but I still wanted to help my team."
Florida had the ball with 11.5 seconds remaining, but Chris Chiozza missed a shot. Frazier got the offensive rebound and was fouled — Arkansas coach Mike Anderson disagreed with the call — by Alandise Harris. Frazier made both, a nice turnaround for the junior guard who got benched at halftime.
"It’s a great lesson for all of us as players," Florida center Jon Horford said. "No matter how the game is going for us, you never know when your moment is going to be. If he would have got out of the game mentally, been upset because he hasn’t been scoring like he normally does and he misses one of those free throws, who knows if we win the game.
"He was locked in, he was focused and he was ready to go. That’s what we need."
The Razorbacks (16-5, 5-3) had one final chance, but turned the ball over on the in-bound pass. The loss snapped Arkansas’ three-game winning streak and was the team’s 10th consecutive loss in Gainesville.
But all the talk afterward was about the foul called on Harris.
"What I was disappointed with more than anything was the officiating going down the stretch," Anderson said. "John Hampton made one of the more critical calls in this game. The last play I was not satisfied with."
Anderson continued a few minutes later, saying "for it to come down to what took place, it’s just total disappointment. I know it’s a judgment call, but that’s my judgment."
When asked whether he felt "hosed" by the call, Anderson’s wife, Marcheita, chimed in from the audience with "don’t say it."
Anderson then added "next question."
Arkansas: Hasn’t won at Florida since Feb. 28, 1995. … Last four games have been decided by a combined nine points. … Portis reached double figures in scoring for the 16th consecutive game.
Florida: Improved to 10-2 all-time vs Arkansas. … Donovan benched Frazier and fellow guard Eli Carter coming out of halftime. … New football coach Jim McElwain spoke to the crowd at halftime, saying he’s going to get the Gators "back where they belong, and that’s the national championship."
Bobby Portis, the SEC’s leading scorer, led Arkansas with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He was a one-man show down the stretch, scoring 10 consecutive points and helping Arkansas overcome a nine-point deficit. He finished 9 of 15 from the field and didn’t have a turnover. "Bobby really stepped up and played well for us," Anderson said.
Freshman point guard Anton Beard made his first career start for Arkansas and finished 10 points, one assist and three turnovers. He nearly made the biggest shot of the game, getting a loose ball and banking in a jumper with 11.5 seconds to play. "I thought he played well," Anderson said. "I thought he directed and took some of the pressure off (Rashad Madden) in terms of the ball-handling and let (Rashad) become a little bit better scorer, so he did a good job. He’s earned it. He’s earned that right."
Arkansas hosts South Carolina on Tuesday.
Florida plays at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.