Another big out-of-conference game, another last-minute loss. It gets tough having to write the same things after each loss, but once again State sees an opponent sink them in the final moments with a big shot.
Davidson's Steph Curry, Marquette's Dominic James...now you can add Nick Calathes to the list of Pack killers thusfar this year. The 6'-6" megaguard created matchup problems for the Pack all day and scored 32 points--12 of which were Florida's final points of the game, including the floater that won it at the end.
I'll admit, after squandering a 10-point halftime lead, I was pretty doggone mad. The remote is still intact, thankfully.
After having some time to ruminate on it (aided by a big Chargers win), I've come back off the ledge a bit. State entered the game an 11-point 'dog and took a team that won back-to-back National Titles two years ago to the wire in their house. State successfully slowed down an up-tempo team to the point of discomfort. I won't go so far as to say the Pack imposed their will, but they definitely dictated a slower pace throughout the game.
They also held the Gators to just 2-13 shooting from beyond the arc, eight attempts and six made baskets fewer than their season averages thusfar.
Could'a, would'a, should'a, I suppose...Farnold Degand played his best game of the year, but committed the final turnover of the game that sealed it for the Gators. Courtney Fells had two big blocks near the end to keep the Pack alive in the final moments, but overall played a poor game, I thought. He turned the ball over three times in crucial situations and shot the ball poorly (44%). It's become his M.O. to show up for some games and disappear in others. This was a "latter" game.
Costner continues to play well, and McCauley made some big buckets as well. The frontcourt duo seem to be back to their 06-07 ways, and wouldn't you know, as soon as I posit whether Tracy Smith should be getting more minutes from McCauley, Smith lays an egg of a game: three turnovers, zero field goals, 50% from the line in his six free throw attempts for three points.
Up next is Clemson, and honestly I don't know what to expect at this point. Based on the three premier games thusfar, I can only guess it will be close at the end. Whether the Pack will finally win one of these remains to be seen.