Florida Looks Overmatched In 76-62 Loss To Butler

Playing at one of the great venues in college basketball at Hinkle Fieldhouse the Gators were outplayed by the home Butler Bulldogs by a score of 76-62. The Gators started the game with some quick buckets and some stout defensive possessions but their favor ended quickly with the Bulldogs figuring out Florida’s defense and suffocating them on the other side of the floor. A 9-point lead for the Bulldogs swelled to as much as 16 in the second half and while the Gators made a run to cut it to single digits they couldn’t maintain the momentum required to come back against a disciplined home team. The Gators now have 10 days before taking on a struggling Providence team.

Struggling To Get Stops

Butler has been a potent offensive team so far this season and that was on display again as they carved up the Gators possession by possession to rack up points. They finished the game shooting 52% from the field and 45% from three, both numbers that showcased just how well they were playing. Whether it was ball reversals off of Gator double teams that turned into open threes or back cuts off the ball that resulted in wide-open layups the Bulldogs seemed to be getting whatever they wanted offensively. Kerry Blackshear Jr. had some tough moments guarding on the inside when Butler got going downhill while Andrew Nembhard and Tre Mann both were the victims of back cuts from their checks getting easy points.

Baskets Hard To Come By

Florida’s offensive problems have been a running storyline throughout the start of the season and against Butler the same problems arose. Other than a simple ball screen with Andrew Nembhard and Kerry Blackshear Jr. the Gators’ offense didn’t yield many open shots and when those shots did come about they weren’t hitting them. Finishing the game with a 6-26 mark from three (23.1%) simply wasn’t good enough and if the Gators found a way to make a couple more of those the momentum could have swung and they may have found a way back into the game. This is still a basketball team searching for offensive identity and the fact that they are most of the way through their non-conference schedule without any scoring rhythm has to be concerning.

Battle On The Boards

One of the reasons Butler won this game was the fact that they really controlled the glass only allowing 4 offensive rebounds from the Gators. Since Florida hasn’t been able to hit many shots they’ve needed to be active on the offensive glass and the fact that Butler was able to get box outs and end possessions with a rebound made it that the Gators couldn’t scrape together any second chance points. When Florida really wants to attack the glass they put Omar Payne or Dontay Bassett at the 4 spot next to Blackshear but each of those guys only played 6 minutes a piece as their defense couldn’t keep them on the floor. Florida missing shots will be many people’s takeaway from this game but their inability to offensive rebound hurt too.

Final Thoughts

If Florida were to have won this key road game it would have gone a long way in righting the ship from what has been a tough start but instead the team is left disappointed and still searching for an identity. It’s looking more and more clear that the offense they are looking to run isn’t working and there needs to be some reevaluation on that end. Unfortunately they also didn’t defend well enough to win today either so there is some improvement to be shown there as well. With a week and a half to prepare for a 5-5 providence team with losses to Long Beach State and Charleston you’ve got to hope they’ll come out with some better execution.

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.