By: Jenna Ladd
For all the well-publicized struggles the Florida Gators have had this season, the Missouri Tigers have had it even worse. Coming into Tuesday’s game, Mizzou was on a 13-game losing streak. That is, before they snapped it as they defeated a struggling Gator basketball team 64-52.
As we have seen before, the Gators were battling with the Tigers during the first half, and keeping themselves in the game. However, the same fight and drive did not translate into the second half of the game, following the consistently inconsistent pattern that Florida has displayed all season long.
Despite Mizzou starting off with the momentum in the first half, Florida was able to steal it back after a Sports Center top-10 worthy dunk by Devin Robinson with 2:30 left in the half.
After this play the Gators came back with confidence, making two treys – one by Robinson and the other by Jon Horford – to put them in the lead at 31-27 going into halftime.
Speaking of Robinson and Horford, they were the Gators leading scorers in the matchup with the Tigers. D-Rob led with 14 points, and Horford was not far off with 10 of his own.
The anticipated impact players on offense came up short in Tuesday’s game. Kasey Hill scored five points, Alex Murphy scored six and Eli Carter only put up two. However, both Carter and Hill still helped out with assists – Eli had three and Hill had four.
What was the real challenge for the Gators on Tuesday was not just making field goals, but throwing bricks for free throws. Florida went 9-23 (39.1%) from the charity stripe, which was even worse than their field goal percentage of 39.6%.
The players continue to stress that they are putting in the work at the gym, shooting free throws in their spare time but the work is not showing itself on the floor.
The confidence that once existed in the first half of the game slowly started to dissipate in the second frame. Missouri’s Namon Wright, whose hand was on fire as he went on a three-pointer rampage, may have been to blame.
During the second half, the Gators scored 21 points whereas the Tigers put up 37 – with 15 of those points coming from free throws.
All in all, Florida simply turned the charity stripe into the poverty stripe, wasting away points at the line and giving up the game because of it. Going up against a team that was not initially thought to be a huge obstacle, the Gators simply just didn’t compete to their fullest potential.
Granted, a lot of mistakes were made due to young and inexperienced players with shot clock violations and traveling calls, but it should not have resulted in a double-digit win for Missouri.
The Florida Gators are more talented than the way that they played in this matchup. Hopefully Michael Frazier and Dorian Finney-Smith will be able to soon rejoin the team to help them get Billy Donovan’s 500th career win this season.
However, they do have a bit of time to prepare before the Gators take on the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at home in the O’Dome at 6 p.m. Let’s just hope that they get some more free throw shots in at practice this week.