Christmas comes early: JU upsets #20 Florida, 71-68
With a complete team effort, the JU men’s basketball team overcame a seven-point deficit in the final seven minutes to upset No. 20 Florida in overtime, 71-68, in front of 8,183 at the O’Connell Center.

Freshman Keith McDougald scored a season-high 18 points, with 15 coming in the second half and overtime to lead four Dolphins in double figures. The Jacksonville native hit four 3-pointers, all in the second half, along with four clutch free throws in the final minute of overtime to preserve the win.

Jacksonville (7-3) was able to overcome Florida’s 48-31 advantage on the glass for its first win over the Gators since 1994, which was also the Dolphins last win over a team ranked in the top 25.

“I really liked our effort for the entire game,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We did a good job of following the scouting report and executing. I’m really proud of how we handled the pressure today against a very good Florida team.”

Trailing by two with 30 seconds left in regulation, Ayron Hardy stole the ball away from Chandler Parsons, racing up the floor to tie the game at 61 with a dunk. Erving Walker misses a long jumper at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

Trailing 66-65 with 1:10 left in overtime, Delwan Graham knocked down a jumper to put the Dolphins back on top 67-66.

After a stop, McDougald knocked down a pair of free throws with 32 seconds left to put JU up 69-66. After a Parsons layup, McDougald hit another pair of free throws with 17 seconds left to put the Dolphins up three.

On its last possession, Walker missed a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to send the JU bench into celebration.

Florida (8-3), which cracked the AP top 25 at halftime, got a game-high 21 points from Erving Walker and double-doubles from Alex Tyus with 10 points and 11 boards and Vernon Macklin with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

After taking a two-point lead at halftime, the Dolphins pushed the lead to five, 34-29, in the opening minutes with a McDougald 3-pointer.

Florida answered with a 12-3 run to take a 41-37 lead with 13:51 left on a Kenny Boynton layup. The Gators eventually built a 56-49 lead with 6:58 left after a Erving Walker 3-pointer put them up seven.

The Dolphins answered with seven straight to tie the game at 56 with 4:40 left thanks to an Ayron Hardy putback.

Russell Powell kept the Dolphins in the game with 13 points, hitting 6-of-11 from the floor with two assists. Hardy had 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Graham added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

In a sluggish first half, JU was able to battle through to take a 29-27 lead at halftime thanks to a Travis Cohn jumper with 13 seconds left.

The Dolphins return to the court on Dec. 30 as they host Bethune-Cookman for the last non-conference game of the season in the second half of a doubleheader with the JU women. The doubleheader starts at 5 p.m., with the men’s game scheduled for 7:15 p.m.