USS BATAAN -- On a chilly night in Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., Little Big Town sent chills down the spines of about 3,800 fans aboard the USS Bataan to watch Florida tip off its season against Georgetown aboard the amphibious assault ship when the popular country group belted out a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Floor crews wipe the court aboard the USS Bataan after halftime, but officials were forced to call the game after Florida took a 27-23 lead in the first half.
The chills took a while to dissipate for the teams on the floor as hundreds of service men and women watched the two college basketball powerhouses spar for their first win of the season.
The teams battled cold temperatures and a very slight breeze to a near standstill for during the first half before slick floor conditions due to condensation forced the game to be canceled after the half.
"We really appreciate everybody being out here supporting this event and also our troops for all their service," said Florida coach Billy Donovan, speaking to the crowd moments after the game was called. "We're very thankful. This has been a very great experience for our basketball team."
Florida took a 27-23 lead into halftime while conditions were playable, thanks to strong defense from the zone and a good effort on the glass. The Gators held a 16-14 halftime rebounding edge, and big men Patric Young, Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete combined for 10 rebounds in 46 minutes of play.
Georgetown shot just 10-28 (35.7%) from the field and 3-13 (23.1%) from three-point range.
Donovan praised his team's effort on the glass and defense in the zone -- though he said he wanted to take a look at the film to further evaluate -- but the conditions coming out of the locker room were simply too unsafe to continue.
"If you were down here, you would have a realistic understanding how slippery it is and what kind of jeopardy these guys would be placed in," he told the fans.
Florida officials were unsure exactly how the result would be scored, but it is highly unlikely it will count toward either team's record. In all probability, it will be ruled a "no contest" by the NCAA.
The Gators will return to action Sunday against Alabama State in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed reason prior the team bus leaving for Jacksonville for the Georgetown game is unlikely to play, Donovan said.
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