The Gators couldn’t put together a consistent enough effort on offense to win on Wednesday as they fell to Oklahoma by a score of 65-60. Jalen Hudson’s early season struggles continued as he was held to only 4 points while Dontay Bassett had a breakout performance with 14 points on efficient 6-8 shooting. Christian James was the top performer for Oklahoma with 18 points while Jumuni McNease was a handful down low putting in 11 points, 4 blocks, and 3 big offensive rebounds. While there were stretches for the Gators where they played good basketball there were too many dry spells and it ultimately lead to their demise. They will now play the loser of the Wisconsin-Stanford matchup.
Free throws and rebounding were what lost the Gators the game as they went a pitiful 3-11 from the charity stripe and got outrebounded by 15. The weird sightlines and lighting in the gym could have played a role in the bad free throw shooting but it didn’t affect the three-point shooting as the Gators had their best long-range outing of the season going 11-27 (40.7%). In terms of rebounding, the extra possessions the Gators gave up allowed Oklahoma to have 7 more offensive possessions than they did and those extra chances hurt. What lead to so many offensive rebounds for the Sooners? The switching man-to-man defensive scheme. There are positives with playing that style of defense but one of the negatives is the fact that you might end up with some bad matchups on box outs and that was the case against Oklahoma. The Sooners regularly got into a position where Jumuni McNease or Kristian Doolittle was being guarded on the weak side by KeVaughn Allen or Andrew Nembhard and when a shot came up, the bigger player often came up with the ball. If the Gators are going to commit to playing the switching man defense they’ll have to understand they’ll be giving up offensive rebounds in matchups like this.
With Jalen Hudson continuing to struggle to start the season the Gators closed out the game with a much younger lineup then normal rolling out Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke, Dontay Bassett (probably the player of the game for the Gators), Keith Stone, and KeVaughn Allen. While it was good to see Locke and Bassett having performances that warranted them playing the biggest minutes of the game it’s an issue that Hudson couldn’t get it going. He sat for a large stretch of the second half after putting up a few bad shots and when he got back in he could never establish rhythm.
Though the three-point shot bailed out the Gators on a few possessions tonight their offense is still a work in progress. The 40% 3-point shooting should be encouraging but there will still far too many wasted possessions on bad shots from KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson. Shot selection continues to be an issue for the team and when it’s the seniors putting up most of the bad ones it’s not a great example to the younger players.
Unfortunately, this was a really bad loss for the Gators, at least in terms of how this tournament is going to shake out. I expect Wisconsin to beat a far less talented Stanford team and the Gators will play them. Stanford is a sub-80 KenPom team and doesn’t offer the Gators a great chance at a good resume win but gives them a chance at a bad loss. Then, the Gators will probably play Dayton who I’m guessing will beat Middle Tennessee State in the semi-finals of the consolation side after I think both squads will lose their opening games. Dayton is a sub-100 KenPom team and once again doesn’t offer the Gators a chance at a good win. This loss to Oklahoma is not only disheartening because of the way they were beat, but because they no longer have any chances for good wins at the Battle 4 Atlantis. They are now going to be in “avoid a bad loss” mode as opposed to “get good wins” mode.