During the game you may have cringed, you may have yelled, and you may have even turned away at some point but in the end the Gators were able to escape the unfriendly confines of Bud Walton Arena with a gritty 57-51 victory over Arkansas. Nowadays it seems like any win the Gators get could be classified as gritty but given the fact it was a road win that had them avoid being 0-2 in the SEC for the first time in 9 years, I’ll take it.
Player Of The Game
Of Arkansas’ 51 points, 30 were provided by guard Mason Jones who almost singlehandedly won this game for the Razorbacks. He got it done from three (4-9), got it done from the paint (3-4), and even got it done from the charity stripe (12-13). This was one of the biggest performances we’ve seen from a player against the Gators and they’re lucky he didn’t win the game all by himself.
Though giving up 30 points to Mason Jones certainly wasn’t in the game plan the Gators did do a great job of limiting the Razorbacks’ two highest scorers in Daniel Gafford and Isaiah Joe. Leading scorer Gafford, who was limited by foul trouble, had 9 points and 12 rebounds which for him is a quiet night and their second leading scorer Joe was slowed to 6 points on 2-10 shooting. It was clearly a focus to slow these two down and it worked on the whole, a testament to the Gators knowing the scouting report.
KeVaughn Allen has always played well when returning to his home state of Arkansas and in his final game in Fayetteville he provided 18 points with 11 of them coming from the free throw line. His shot wasn’t falling (1-9 from three) and he had a couple bad plays in the clutch that helped the Razorbacks get back in the game but he always played hard and hit the free throws that sealed the win.
Shooting only 31% from the field the Gators struggled offensively once again but their dogged determination on defense won them the game. Arkansas shot even worse at 30% and had 15 turnovers while constantly being pestered by the Gators’ pressure. Florida is going to have to find a way to score the basketball if they’re going to be a force in the SEC but their defense is going to keep them in a ton of games.
The Gators decided to change things up with a small starting lineup of Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke, KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson, and Kevarrius Hayes. Sliding Hudson in at power forward hypothetically should have gotten some more offense into the starting unit but Hudson couldn’t get it going, shooting 4-14 from the field. Though the Gators played small they were able to rebound the ball well and still defend at a high level so it’s something we may see again.
Gorjok Gak was dressed and went through warm-ups and though I haven’t gotten an update on his situation (other that he’s out of shape) seeing him dressed and going through the pre-game routine is a good sign.
The Gators have a tough one against Tennessee on Saturday. The Vols have been incredible thing year and I think are the clear favorite to win the SEC. This is a chance for the Gators to pick up a big win but man, it’s going to be tough.