As woeful as the first game of the night at the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden was, the second made up for it. The No. 16 Florida Gators staved off a handful of runs and earned a big 77-75 win over the No. 15 Memphis Tigers on Tuesday.
Joe Jackson made a layup with 40 seconds left to bring Memphis (7-2) within two points at 75-73, but Florida's Casey Prather was fouled and hit both free throws with 27 seconds to give Florida a two-possession lead. Shaq Goodwin was fouled and brought the score back to 77-75 with 19 seconds to go, and Scottie Wilbekin missed the front end of a one-and-one two seconds later. Memphis grabbed the rebound and called its final timeout with 10.8 seconds to play to set up the final play.
On the final play, Jackson drove at Wilbekin but missed at the rim to give Florida the win.
Prather led the Gators with 22 points, sinking four foul shots in as many attempts in the game's final 80 seconds. In all, the Gators were 14-of-18 from the foul line.
The win secured Florida's second big win in a row and third in four games, following Dec. 10's 67-61 home win over the Kansas Jayhawks. A 67-66 win over the Florida State Seminoles on Nov. 29 started the streak, and the only thing keeping Florida from a one-loss record was Shabazz Napier's buzzer-beater for Connecticut on Dec. 2.
The Gators (8-2) led by as many as 12 exactly 10 minutes into the second half, a 23-11 advantage that Memphis quickly offset with a 10-2 run. The Tigers even took a 36-35 lead on a Shaq Goodwin steal and run-out layup with 2:53 until halftime, but Florida scored three points the next trip down when DeVon Walker was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three subsequent foul shots.
Florida out-rebounded the Tigers 34-23.