Nothing went right for Florida tonight as the Gators fell to the Seminoles 83-66. Florida State dominated just about every facet of the game as they edged out Florida in field goal percentage (38.9% to 36.2%), rebounding (51-34), and turnover margin (FSU +5). Junior Terance Mann was the leader tonight for the Seminoles as he finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds. His ability to get the hoop in both transition and the half court was too much for Florida’s perimeter players to handle, and his constant penetration meant help continually had to come from teammates and the defense was continuously distorted. The Gators have now fallen to the Seminoles in four consecutive years, and will be looking to bounce back against Loyola-Chicago on December 6.
Chiozza’s Ugly Record
With the Gators losing in four consecutive years to the Seminoles, Chiozza has officially become winless against Florida State in his collegiate career barring a meeting in the NCAA Tournament. He was really bottled up by the Seminoles, and you could see shutting down Chiozza was a key focus for them. Constantly sending long help side defenders to double him on screen and roles, he was ineffective at orchestrating offense. Though he ended with 3 points, he was scoreless until late in the game during garbage time when he got some free throws, and his 4 turnovers frustrated both him and Mike White alike.
A common theme tonight was Florida State outsizing and out-athleting Florida. Their size certainly bothered Florida’s wings as Egor Koulechov, Jalen Hudson, and KeVaughn Allen combined to shoot 13-35. Continuously locked down when trying to dribble drive, the offense was unable to run and the Gators were forced to heave up contested looks. Florida State’s size advantage was also felt on the glass as they won the rebounding battle 53-39 and had an astonishing 25 offensive rebounds. Florida has a lot of tough games to play before inside help comes back with a healthy John Egbunu, so they will have to find a way to improve when playing big, strong teams.
Mike White made it known that he challenged his frontcourt to have more of an impact coming into this game and unfortunately they did not deliver. Kevarrius Hayes (3 points, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers) and Keith Stone (5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers) had tough nights against physical competition, and when Egor Koulechov (4-13 FG, 4 rebounds) played the four he was constantly attacked and was forced to give up fouls. Games in early December don’t define a team and they don’t define players, so hopefully they can use this experience to continue to improve.
After rolling his ankle, Kevarrius Hayes was sent briskly to the locker room and was presumed to be out for the final six minutes of the game. However, he made his return after getting checked out and tried to help claw the Gators back into the game. There hasn’t been any updates on his status yet, but his return to the game hopefully suggests that there is no serious damage. Checking back into a tough game after an injury scare shows a lot of toughness that I’m sure didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.
What’s Up Next
The Gators can’t sulk for too long after this one, as on Wednesday night they take on a strong mid-major team in the 8-1 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers. Though the loss to the Seminoles stings and doesn’t look great on Florida’s resume right now, they have to refocus and make sure not to spiral out of control and give up more losses to unranked teams.
Reason for Optimism
Although the point total looked ugly, Florida’s primary defense was actually quite strong. They often defended the first section of Florida State’s offensive possessions well and forced tough shots that were often missed, as indicated by Florida State’s 38.9% from the field. The Seminoles also were kept to 30.4% from three, and several hits were heavily contested looks at the end of the contest in garbage time. If the Gators were to have defensively rebounded better their defense actually would have looked quite stout, and this game would have looked very difficult. The fact that the Gators played so well defensively but lost by so much due to rebounding is another reminder of how important controlling the glass is to basketball.
What did you think of tonight’s performance by the Gators? Leave a comment here or post on the Gator Country forums.