Andrew Nembhard And Noah Locke Lead The Way To 78-61 Win

It’s clear that Texas A&M is in a rebuilding phase in their first year under Buzz Williams but the Gators went into College Station and did what they needed to, overwhelming the Aggies with athleticism and speed on their way to a decisive 78-61 win. The first half saw the Aggies, a team that normally is horrendous at shooting the three, knock down multiple long bombs to keep the game within 3 points at the break but in the second the Gators wore them down by demonstrating some of the best ball movement they have displayed this season and in doing so gained a massive lead and never let go. Texas A&M might not look like a great team but they hold wins over Missouri, Tennessee, and Ole Miss and the Gators disposing of them with relative ease should give the team some confidence moving forward in the SEC season.

Staying Hot

Entering the game shooting 47% from three in conference season Noah Locke kept his hot streak alive by going 5-10 from deep on his way to a 21-point game. In the first half Florida was having a bit of trouble getting settled offensively and there wasn’t a lot going right other than Locke’s lights-out shooting as 4 of his makes came in the first 20 minutes. There hasn’t been a lot about Florida’s overall game that could be classified as consistent but Locke’s shooting is one of the things that can be and any time he can shoot the ball like this the Gators are going to look like the best version of themselves offensively.

Leading The Way

Noah Locke’s shooting kicked off the game for the Gators but from there Andrew Nembhard took over going for 24 points and 5 assists on extremely efficient 9-11 shooting from the floor. A streaky shooter this season his 3-5 mark from three was a great sign but what made him most effective was his ability to get to the rim. Using ball screens he would start moving towards the rim, changing speeds to get defenders off balance before knifing to the cup for layups. Entering the year we knew Nembhard could pass but his increased individual scoring ability has really changed the way teams have defended the Gators. It’s clear opponents are concerned about his individual scoring and when they have collapsed on him Nembhard has made the right reads and delivered the ball on target to put his teammates in a position to succeed.

Slippery Hands, Slippery Feet

One negative from Wednesday’s game was turnover trouble the Gators had as they coughed the ball up 14 teams, a concerning number after a 15 turnover effort against Ole Miss. What made Wednesday’s turnovers particularly odd is because many of them came on travels where they simply weren’t able to get their feet set before making a play. Andrew Nembhard and Scottie Lewis were the main culprits here and sometimes it seemed like they were a bit out of control thinking about what their next move might be as soon as they got the ball before ensuring what their feet were doing. In the SEC where you have a tough opponent every game you can’t be giving away possessions and limiting turnovers is going to be a key moving forward.

Final Thoughts

The win over the Aggies brings the Gators to 7-4 in the SEC and keeps them in the ever-important top-4 spots in the standings, ensuring byes to start the SEC Tournament. Texas A&M isn’t the most talented team out there but the Gators still controlled what they could control and generally played quite well, moving the ball confidently on offense and communicating defensively. Yes, Texas A&M entered the game ranked 275th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric, but the Gators handled them like they should have. Right now the Gators desperately needed a win and they went on the road and got one. The team is taking things game to game right now and with a 17-point win over the Aggies the Gators did their job.

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.