The Gators fought tooth and nail for forty minutes with the notoriously gritty Texas Tech Red Raiders and even though they nearly came away with some late game magic the basketball gods were not on the side of the team from Gainesville as the Gators fell by a score of 69-66. Down by 5 with less than thirty seconds left the Gators executed their late game offense with near perfection with a straight line drive layup for Chiozza followed by a steal generated by the press. Then the Gators were able to get a wide open three to tie by one of their best shooters in Egor Koulechov who couldn’t convert, and then they even got a three-point look for Jalen Hudson who also rimmed out. The Gators took punches to the gut all throughout the game and still were able to keep it close and for that, I respect the heck out of them. Sometimes in basketball the ball doesn’t bounce your way and for the Gators, the ball didn’t bounce their way over and over again tonight.
I don’t think many Gator fans will be happy with the whistle tonight as the Gators only drew two fouls in the first 25 minutes of the game while committing ten of their own. Calling every touch foul on the Gators but letting contact at the rim go nearly every time played right into the hand of the Red Raiders and left the Gators scrambling for rotations that would work with multiple players in foul trouble. Most notably Chris Chiozza picked up his fourth foul halfway through the fourth and with the Gators down by eight this could have been the moment the team folded. Instead, the Gators kept the game close with Allen at the point and gave themselves a chance to win.
Under The Lights
Transferring to Florida with a desire to play in moments just like this, Jalen Hudson played excellent basketball and hit the tough shots down the stretch that kept this from being a runaway performance by the Red Raiders. Finishing with 23 points, many of them on difficult shots, he was definitely the player of the game for the Gators. Selfishly, I think we all hope he returns to Gainesville for his senior season.
Point Guard Battle
I spoke before the game about the matchup between world-class point guards Chris Chiozza and Keenan Evans and this matchup definitely went to Texas Tech’s leading man. While Chiozza only had 9 points and 3 assists, Evans was able to constantly burn the Gators to get into the paint or rise off the dribble for a jumper and finished with 22 major points. Foul trouble definitely played a part in Chiozza’s struggle but the play of Evans definitely played a large factor in that too.
Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword
A common theme this year was whether or not the Gators would hit their threes and tonight was a perfect example of this. Starting the night with some smooth jumpers that found nothing but net the Gators made you think it might be a great night from behind the arc. Then, when the Gators desperately needed threes at the end of the game, they weren’t there for them. With the game within 3 with 45 seconds left Koulechov airballed a wide open three that would have tied and as mentioned earlier, the long balls from Koulechov and Hudson to tie in the final ten seconds didn’t fall either. It will be interesting to see how this year’s offensive successes and failures effect Mike White’s philosophies on offense and recruiting.
What’s Up Next
…Nothing. That’s it for the Gators this season and the loss brings the 2017-2018 season to a close. Thanks for following along with this wild ride and I look forward to bringing recruiting coverage this fall and some other great Gators basketball content as well.