Florida Avoids Disaster With 73-67 Win Over Marshall

It wasn’t pretty but the Gators were able to hold on with all they were worth to come away with a slim 73-67 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd in what could be considered the Billy Donovan Bowl between two of the teams he coached in college.

It came right down the wire and at 69-67 in Florida’s favor Andrew Nembhard hit a midrange jumper that stretched the game to two possessions, ultimately the death blow in Marshall’s chance at the major upset. Nembhard struggled in this one with some early turnovers but showed some leadership in huddles and made some timely plays that allowed Florida to avoid an embarrassing loss.

Avoiding Disaster

There were two times disaster almost struck for the Gators but luckily they were able to come out on the winning side of it.

First, Marshall held an 8-point lead at half which sucked the energy out of the O’Dome and had the Thundering Herd playing with intensity. The first half of the game saw the Gators get extremely stagnant on offense moving extremely slowly and not threatening at any point of the possession. The Gators were able to battle back which allowed for another near disaster.

When the Gators stormed back they built a double-digit lead that held in the final 8 minutes of the game. Then a dry spell came and the Thundering Herd went on a major run bringing the game within 2 points in the final two minutes.

A poor start and a poor finish almost ruined the Gators but they competed for enough stretches to get a win, though I don’t think many people inside the program will be happy with how it happened.

Player Of The Game

Ques Glover has continued to be a bright spot and he led the way for Florida with 14 points Friday night. Each one of those points was needed, especially the 8 he had in the first half when no one else seemed to be on their game for Florida. His speed was an issue for anyone guarding him and he got to the rim with regularity. That ability to blow by his man is something the Gators don’t have a lot of and if he can keep slashing he’ll command more and more minutes.

Ball Movement

Florida finished the game with only 4 assists, all of which came from Andrew Nembhard. His first assist also came halfway into the second half which shows just how much of a struggle it was for the Gators to generate offense. Overall the team shot 44.8% from the field and 22.2% from three while turning the ball over 13 times. After scoring only 25 points in the first half their 48 points in the second was a vast improvement but it’s clear the team is still searching for offensive identity. In the first half the team was trying to go through it’s motion offense to no avail and in the second they went to designed plays for post ups and ball screens, something that was noticeably more effective. They still seem to be in the trial and error phase of figuring out how to score and they’ll have to figure out what they want to stick to quickly with some tough games coming up.

Foul Trouble

Kerry Blackshear Jr. had another frustrating night with fouls only playing 22 minutes before picking up his fifth and sixth fouls. I know what you’re thinking, “you only get five fouls in college basketball!” but as he was walking to the bench following his fifth he muttered something to the ref and picked up a technical foul. The Gators need him to stay on the floor and be a fulcrum of their offense and if foul trouble remains a theme it’s going to be a problem.

Moving Forward

This was supposed to be an easier game for Florida before they take on more challenging opponents in Butler, Utah State, and Providence and now they’ll have some soul searching to do before this mini gauntlet. Butler has won over 50 straight non-conference games on the road so this game will be no slouch but if they can win all three of these, even if it’s in ugly fashion, their resume will be looking good. That is a big “if,” but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Florida has a lot of days off before the Butler contest to figure things out and hopefully they’ll find a way to generate some offensive rhythm.

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.