Florida coach Billy Donovan said it was tough to review the final 10 minutes of UF’s loss against Louisville.

For the second straight season, the Gators were unable to hold an 11-point lead in the second half of an Elite Eight game. In UF’s overtime Elite Eight loss to Butler, Donovan blamed it on hustle plays. In the Louisville loss, Donovan blamed it on defensive breakdowns and a lack of ability to make big plays down the stretch.

“We had some defensive breakdowns in some crucial situations as they started to make a run back at us and then we had some plays that we did not make,” Donovan said.

In particular, Donovan pointed out freshman Bradley Beal’s travel and Erving Walker’s inability to make an extra pass to an open Erik Murphy on the wing in the closing minutes.

“Walker had a decent look in the lane but Murphy was open and probably would have been a little better,” Donovan said. “I thought Brad had a great drive to the basket and just didn’t finish. We had some shots and some plays that we didn’t make and I thought that was a difference.”

For Florida, it was another frustrating finish to a close game. The Gators finished 2011-12 2-5 in games decided by five points or less, including a double-overtime loss to Rutgers in which the Gators had the ball with a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. In 16 seasons coaching Florida, Donovan is 58-73 in gamed decided by five points or less.

“You are always worried about that as a coach,” Donovan said, when asked about his team’s performance in tight games. “I don’t think there’s any question because you are always going to be in those kind of games … in practice, you are always working on those kind of things. You are always trying to make sure that your team is prepared when they happen.”

Other notes:

— While Florida remains in the running for 2012 McDonald’s All-American big man Anthony Bennett, the Gators also are pursuing an in-state fallback option. According to SNY.com’s Adam Zagoria, Bradley Hayes, a 6-foot-11, 245-pound center from Jacksonville (Sandalwood High) has Florida is in his final four college choices with Connecticut, Georgetown and Texas A&M. Hayes is considered more of a late bloomer in the 2012 class, but runs the floor well and has some shot-blocking ability. Donovan will be watching Hayes this weekend in Pittsburgh, according to the SNY report.

— Another in-state prospect to watch is 2013 power forward Chris Walker. The 6-10 Walker, from Bonifay, is the fifth-rated overall prospect (and third rated power forward) in ESPNUs 2013 rankings. Walker says he has a close relationship with Donovan and mentioned Florida among six schools with Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Syracuse and Ohio State.

— Division I college basketball will be undergoing more NCAA-proposed academic reforms in 2015 which will include a required 2.3 GPA in 16 high school core courses (up from 2.0) and a required 2.5 GPA for junior college transfers (up from 2.0).











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