Point guard Zyon Pullin came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points, none bigger than his 3-pointer with nine seconds left in the first overtime, and the Florida Gators came from nine points down in the second half to defeat Michigan 106-101 in double-overtime Tuesday night in the Jumpman Invitational at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. Pullin, the grad-transfer from Califorinia-Riverside, threw in 18 of his points during the second half and two OTs, going went six of 13 from the floor, sinking both his 3s, grabbing six rebounds, dishing five assists and turning the ball over just once in 39 minutes. UF also got 21 points and 11 rebounds from grad-transfer Tyrese Samuel, who went 9-for-12 from the floor on the way to a fourth double-double of the season. Junior wing Will Richard scored 17 points, backup freshman center Alex Condon had 14 points and six rebounds and junior guard Walter Clayton Jr. added 12, but seven came in the second overtime during a run of 11 straight points to open a 102-93 advantage before the Wolverines bombed a couple 3s to make it a little tighter at the end. Michigan, wtih point guard Dug McDaniel on his way to 33 points, had a nine-point lead, 57-48, inside 15 minutes to go and was shooting close to 60 percent through the game’s first 25 minutes before Florida began its comeback; first with an 8-2 run that got the Gators within three, then with seven straight to tie the game with 9:54 left. After that, it was a trading of leads and ties the rest of the way. UF led by inside a minute to go, but UM got back-to-back putbacks between a Clayton turnover to force the first overtime. In the second, the Wolverines led by three with less than 10 seconds to go when Pullin dropped his 3-ball. Michigan scored the first bucket of the second extra period and led 93-91 when a stick-back slam by Samuel started the run of 11 consecutive points. UF shot 44.7 percent for the game, went just 8-for-29 from the 3-point line (27.6 percent) and 18 of 29 from the free-throw line (62.1 percent). The Gators, though, made nine of 17 shots in the overtimes (53.9 percent) in overtime. UM, after a torrid start shooting the ball, finished at just 44.7 percent, including 3-for-12 in the overtimes.
What it Means
The Gators got themselves a brand-name, non-league scalp, an accomplishment that has mostly eluded the program during Coach Todd Golden’s two seasons. And they got it by out-fighting a talented, game opponent. This one, for now, will go down as a Quad-2 victory, but that’s subject to change, pending how the Wolverines fare in Big Ten play. Just as important, the stated goal of the Florida players to go unbeaten in December remains in fact. Four down, two to go. Getting that done would be a nice springboard into Southeastern Conference play after the calendar flips to January.
In the Spotlight
Florida’s bench. Backup Gators outscored backup Wolverines 43-3, which easily could double as the ‘Staggering Statistic” below.
Michigan’s five starters all played at least 44 minutes, where as Florida had no player go over 39 for the game. Obviously, that fatigue came into the play, as Michigan’s shooting faltered late in the game.
Florida (8-3) has one more game, Friday afternoon against Grambling State (2-8) at Exactech Arena, before breaking for the holidays. The game will mark the Tigers’ ninth in a row away from home, following their Wednesday night trip to Southwestern Louisiana.