Piscataway, N.J. • On the surface, it appeared No. 10 Florida simply didn't finish off Rutgers.
The Gators blew a seven-point lead in the final 3 minutes of regulation and a three-point lead with less than 20 seconds to go in the first overtime before falling to Rutgers 85-83 in double overtime on Thursday.
Florida coach Billy Donovan wasn't interested in letting the late collapses serve as the reason the Gators' five-game winning streak came to an end against one of the lesser teams in the Big East Conference.
Donovan said Florida (10-3) stopped playing long before that. They opened the game with a 14-5 spurt and then stopped moving the ball and looking for each other.
"I don't think that we were very good on offense," Donovan said, adding that the performance came just a week after his team played an outstanding game against Florida State. "Their kids played the right way and I don't think that our guys played the right way."
While not a big fan of learning from a loss, Donovan felt this game could help his team down the road.
"Our team needs to go through this to reach our full potential, as difficult as that may be," he said. "It's bigger for me than just this game, it's about us getting better."
Rutgers (8-5) was the team that really improved.
Freshman Eli Carter led the way with a career-high 31 points, hitting the go-ahead basket in the second overtime. He also nailed a late 3-pointer in the first overtime to put the Scarlet Knights in position for their biggest win since knocking off No. 9 Villanova at home last season.