New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Casey Prather scored Florida's final eight points and finished with 22 as the No. 16 Gators eked by the No. 15 Memphis Tigers, 77-75, in a non-conference showdown at Madison Square Garden.
A matchup between two probable NCAA Tournament teams on a neutral floor was fittingly decided just before the buzzer, as Florida swarmed on a driving Joe Jackson in the lane and forced the guard into a tough left-handed layup that failed to even hit the rim.
Dorian Finney-Smith totaled 14 points and six rebounds off Florida's bench, while Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II each chipped in 11 points for the Gators (8-2), who were coming off another quality win over nationally- ranked Kansas.
Jackson had a team-high 17 points for Memphis (7-2), which had a six-game winning streak snapped despite five players scoring in double figures.
Chris Crawford scored all 12 of his points from behind the arc, including a deep make that evened things at 58-58 with 10 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Tigers, though, went the next five-plus minutes without making a field goal, and the drought helped the Gators push their lead to 69-61 following a Kasey Hill 3-pointer with six minutes to play.
A jumper from Jackson and another 3-pointer by Crawford pulled the Tigers back within one possession, but Jackson missed a potential tying 3-pointer the next time down.
Prather scored on consecutive possessions to keep Florida in the driver's seat, at least temporarily, as two misses on the front end of a 1-and-1 by Finney-Smith and Wilbekin kept the Tigers within striking distance at 77-75.
Coming out of a timeout with 10.8 seconds showing, Jackson dribbled past his defender and into the lane before Florida's interior defense caused enough of a disturbance to force a miss and secure the win.
Memphis took its first lead, 36-35, on a Shaq Goodwin steal and layup with less than three minutes remaining in the opening half.
The Gators had gotten out to a fast start and led by double-digits, 18-8, less than 7 1/2 minutes in. Despite the Tigers' own hot shooting stretch, Florida took a 41-38 lead into the break thanks to scoring six of the final eight points in the half.