In what has become a theme of sort lately, the Florida Gators basketball team got big play from their bigs in Tuesday night’s matchup; but a near absent performance from the guards resulted in a 66-55 loss to in state rival, the Miami Hurricanes, as the Gators drop to 6-2.
It looked to be a classic matchup. The Canes came into the game with an offensive efficiency that ranked third in the nation.
The Gators looked to offset it with their defensive efficiency that ranked fourth in the nation.
On paper, the Gators seemed to do just that. Miami was held to a season low 66 points and season low 39.2% shooting efficiency.
As redshirt senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has said so many times it could be a bumper sticker for Gator fans by now, “we want our defense to create our offense.”
So far this season, save Purdue, it has done just that. On Tuesday night in Coral Gables though, it wasn’t enough.
John Egbunu, Dorian Finney-Smith and Devin Robinson were the three leading scorers with 14-12-11 respectively.
This has become par for the course for head coach Mike White’s squad, with his inside guys doing the dirty work; unfortunately as seen in Coral Gables on Tuesday night, they’ve become the ones doing just about all the work.
Guards Kasey Hill, Chris Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen finished with a combined 10 points. Combined, as in all three of them, together they had 10 points.
Chiozza and Hill combined for four assists before fouling out, leaving freshman KeVaughn Allen to man the floor. A case could be made that the most efficient guard on the floor for the Florida Gators basketball team versus Miami was redshirt freshman Brandone Francis-Ramirez who in his 11 minutes tallied four points, a rebound and an assist.
This was offset by guard play from Miami that dominated.
Angel Rodriguez, who took over the Gators in their 2014 matchup, notched 17 points to add to Sheldon McClellan’s 24. Those 41 combined points made up a majority of the Canes points.
The Gators, on the other hand, were reliant on their frontcourt.
This seemed like it would be a blessing in the first few games of this 2015-2016 season. So many times over the past couple of years, the Florida team has expressed their desire to recreate the presence they had down low in the days gone by of Patric Young and Will Yeguete.
In Mike White’s first year in Gainesville, that seemed to finally be happening. With the big body of Egbunu under the basket, Doe-Doe has been able to spread out more and become more of a point forward. Add in Devin Robinson who has laughed in the face of the term “sophomore slump” and the Gators created themselves a Big 3. Freshman Kevarrius Hayes has become increasingly reliable as well down low, failing to make mistakes during his minutes.
The difference though, is Young and Yeguete had guys like Scottie Wilbekin, Erik Murphy and Michael Frazier to draw play up top.
White spent much of the offseason praising the speed of Hill and Chiozza, but speed has not accounted for play as the season has progressed. Offensive flow is noticeably better when Chiozza is on the court, despite Tuesday’s showing, but together the duo has failed to balance out their loaded frontcourt.
The trio of Hill, Chiozza and Allen have a combined shooting percentage of .371 on the season so far; compared to the Egbunu, Robinson and Finney-Smith combined average of .497.
White and the Florida Gators basketball team don’t have long to remedy the issue though, as they have a date with No. 1 Michigan State on Saturday. Both teams are still playing with rotations but in a matchup this big, with a roster that has seen fluctuating play from their guards, it won’t be surprising if Mike White finds one hot hand and sticks with him for the duration.
Tip off for the Florida Gators versus Michigan State is set for 6pm on ESPN2.
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