The Associated Press
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scottie Wilbekin scored a career-high 18 points, Dorian Finney-Smith added 15 and No. 19 Florida held on to beat No. 13 Kansas 67-61 on Tuesday night.
The Gators bounced back from a buzzer-beater loss at No. 9 Connecticut last week and extended their home-winning streak to 21 games. The latest victory came in the Big 12-SEC Challenge and surely will be meaningful when the NCAA tournament seeds are settled in March.
Wilbekin, who injured his right ankle against the Huskies eight days ago, made 7 of 12 shots and added six assists.
Freshman Andrew Wiggins led the Jayhawks (6-3) with 26 points and 11 rebounds — his first double-double and both career highs. Kansas has lost two straight.
The Gators (7-2) went on a 21-0 run and led by as many as 18 points in the first half, but Kansas made it 60-55 on Wiggins’ 3-pointer with 55.8 seconds remaining. It was his second 3 in the final 1:20.
Florida closed it out from the free-throw line — barely.
The Jayhawks fouled center Patric Young down the stretch, and the big man missed all of his free throws. It got even more dicey for the Gators when Casey Prather, one of Florida’s top free-throw shooters, missed two with 22 seconds remaining.
Jamari Traylor hit two on the other end, cutting Florida’s lead to 65-61 with 10.9 seconds left. Florida freshman Kasey Hill ended any chance of a comeback by draining two free throws.
Aside from Wiggins, who made 7 of 15 shots, Kansas had no one else score in double figures.
The biggest issue for the Jayhawks was 24 turnovers, 16 in the first half.
Many of those came in the decisive early run.
Florida used the 21-0 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a double-digit lead. The Gators, who missed six of their first seven shots in the game, got hot from the field. Hill, returning to the rotation after missing the last four games with a high-ankle sprain, got the spurt going with a driving layup.
Wilbekin, who also played despite spraining an ankle in last week’s loss at Connecticut, had a 3-pointer, a floater in the lane and a driving bank shot in the huge run.
Finney-Smith and Young came up big, too.
Finney-Smith, the former Virginia Tech starter who is finding his niche in Gainesville, hit two 3-pointers. And Young was a beast in the paint and on the boards.
Young’s three-point play gave Florida a 32-14 lead with 4:14 remaining in the first half.
But for everything the Gators did on the offensive end of the court, they were even better on defense.
Coach Billy Donovan had his team playing a 1-3-1 zone for much of the game, with big men on the wings and the team’s best defender (Wilbekin) on top. It forced poor shots and more turnovers in 20 minutes than the Jayhawks had made in any game this season.
Kansas opened the second half with its 17th turnover — hardly what coach Bill Self wanted coming out of the locker room.
But the Jayhawks finally settled down and got back in the game.
Kansas State 64, South Dakota 62: MANHATTAN, Kan. — Marcus Foster had 18 points and Shane Southwell contributed 17 points and six rebounds as Kansas State beat South Dakota 64-62 on Tuesday night.
Kansas State (6-3) overcame a poor second-half performance from the foul line to top the Coyotes. While holding a 63-62 lead with 2 seconds left, Thomas Gipson converted on the first of two free throws to seal the victory.
Trevor Gruis matched his season high with 18 points for South Dakota (3-6), while Adam Thoseby added a season-high 16.
South Dakota opened strong, charging to a 15-4 lead with 10:59 remaining in the first half. Having returned four of its five starters from last season, the Coyotes used their experience to punish a depleted Kansas State frontcourt with 16 points in the paint in the first half.
The Wildcats twice cut the lead to three but South Dakota maintained a five-point advantage at the break.
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