Brace yourself, Gator fans.
If Florida is in another tight ballgame that comes down to a last shot, second-year coach Mike White still trusts the ball in senior point guard Kasey Hill’s hands to make a play.
“He won’t settle,” White said. “He’ll go hard to the rim. Some guys, would maybe do a step back 3 in that situation. He’s our second-best passer and he’s a senior, so yeah, he’s the guy I want in that situation.”
Hill was unable to deliver in that situation twice in back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt during UF’s current, two-game losing streak. On March 4 at Memorial Gym, the 6-foot-1 Hill was unable to make a driving layup with 6.7 seconds that could have tied the game in an eventual 73-71 loss to the Commodores. Then, in last Friday’s SEC Tournament quarterfinal, Hill was unable to finish on a drive to the rim with the score tied at 58 in the closing seconds against the Commodores. As a result, the game went to overtime, a game UF eventually lost 72-62.
For as much venom as Hill has received from UF’s fanbase of late, the former McDonald’s All-American did come up clutch when he drew a foul made one of two free throws in the closing seconds to force overtime in a Jan. 14 game against Georgia. Florida eventually beat the Bulldogs in the O’Dome 80-76.
In the SEC quarterfinal loss on Friday, White said he had no issues with how Hill executed the final play in regulation with Florida coming out of a timeout with 9.7 seconds left.
“It was perfect,” White said. “We’ve just got to draw a foul or make a layup, and it’s easier said than done against (Vanderbilt center) Luke Kornet, I know. If we’re in the same position right now with whatever there was, 10 seconds, nine seconds, 11 seconds …
“The last play of the game, we’ve got arguably the fastest guy in basketball downhill on a flat ball screen at half court and he gets right to the rim. We’ve got shooters in the corners, but right there we get point blank. Kornet made a heck of a play. That’s what he does, but we got him away from the basket.”
As a result of the 7-1 Kornet being drawn to Hill, Florida sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes was able to come up with an offensive rebound. But with Vanderbilt jerseys surrounding him, Hayes wasn’t able to go back up strong for a putback before the buzzer sounded.
“I was kind of underneath the rim, tried to get back in scoring position, but I couldn’t really do much,” Hayes said. “Not enough time.”