The strangest game-winning buzzer beater of the college basketball season left the team that surrendered it dancing with joy and the player who scored it burying his head in his jersey.
With rivals Florida and Florida State tied at 63 and three seconds remaining in regulation, Seminoles guard Devon Bookert attempted a fadeaway 3-pointer from the right corner that fell well short. Florida forward Jacob Kurtz attempted to grab the rebound but accidentally tipped the ball off the backboard and into his own basket with 0.4 seconds remaining, giving Florida State a most improbable 65-63 win.
That fluke play snapped Florida's five-game win streak over its in-state rival and made an already disappointing opening two months of the season all the more deflating for the Gators.
A Florida program that reached the Elite Eight each of the past four seasons has failed to live up to its top 10 preseason ranking so far this season, falling to Miami, Georgetown and Florida State in addition to national powers North Carolina and Kansas. The 7-5 Gators have one last chance to notch their first noteworthy win before SEC play begins when they host defending national champion UConn on Saturday.
Florida wouldn't have been in position to lose at the buzzer Tuesday night had it not wasted so many possessions earlier in the game. The Gators committed 17 turnovers against the Seminoles and got little production out of their frontcourt.
It's a shame that the freak play had to come at Kurtz's expense because the junior forward deserves better.
Kurtz is a former student manager who walked onto the Florida team and has been pressed into significant playing time due to injuries to some of the Gators' top big men. The 6-foot-6 forward is averaging 4.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game this season. He had contributed four points and seven rebounds before his stunning last-second gaffe.
Credit Kurtz's teammates for not blaming him for the loss.
"We wouldn't have even been in position to win without him," starting guard Michael Frazier told the Gainesville Sun. "We didn't lose on just one play."
Indeed one play didn't beat the Gators. But the legacy of Florida's latest disappointing loss will certainly be Kurtz's stunning last-second "own basket."
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