Gators Look Much Improved In 83-51 Dismantling Of Providence

Despite a chorus of whistles from the officials slowing the game down to a crawl the Gators were able to find their offensive rhythm on their way to a decisive 83-51 win over the Providence Friars. There was a bit of a feeling out process in the first 10 minutes of the game that took place on a neutral floor in Brooklyn but ultimately Florida’s ball handlers took over the game and the Gators continued to swell the lead until the final buzzer ended the game. Coming off a tough game against Butler this win has to feel good for the orange and blue and whatever they did with 10 days between games to prepare absolutely worked and their wasn’t any rust for the team coming off the exam break. The Gators will now look towards a resume win opportunity against Utah State on Saturday.

Leading The Way

Keyontae Johnson was in his regular form on Tuesday night using his quick first step to get to the rim, his explosive leap to finish above the rim, and developed physical frame to get position and rebound the ball. He finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds while also coming away with 4 steals. As seems to be the case with Johnson when he has a big game he was incredibly efficient shooting 7-13 from the field and when he has a performance like that the Gators are in a good position to win.

Florida’s Offense

Using a constant stream of pick and roll after pick and roll the Gators picked apart a vulnerable Providence defense and generated countless good looks that resulted in their highest point total so far this season. Finishing at 50% from the floor and 44.4% from three it was one of their most efficient games of the season which should bring some confidence to a team searching for their offensive identity. Providence is a team that can really make their opponents uncomfortable with the ball and make it difficult to run offense but the Gators were able to move the ball with precision and find open shooters. Andrew Nembhard led the way with 7 assists while his teammates combined for 8 more.

Active Hands

Florida forced 15 turnovers in this one giving them valuable extra possessions that turned into points on the other end. There were some excellently timed double teams and tactical dig downs that resulted in steals and overall it looked like the team was starting to show what their defensive potential could be. Another area Florida was excellent defensively was when it came to defending the 3-point line. Providence finished a horrifying 1-18 (5.6%) from the land beyond and while some of that was them missing open looks the Gators were also fairly disciplined in their rotations and had some good closeouts that made for well-defended threes.

One Negative

Providence is a fairly long team and they’re awfully physical but the Gators gave up 20 offensive rebounds and that number alone would get you beat on a lot of nights, but luckily the Gators were executing in pretty much every other area. Defensive rebounding has been a problem for the Gators and they’ll need to find a way to keep opponents off the glass because that was a lot of extra possessions they gave up.

Secondary Scoring

When Florida was at their best on Tuesday night it was with Tre Mann and Ques Glover in the game from off the bench. Mann (13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) and Glover (10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist) played some of their best basketball of the year, using their speed and dribbling abilities to get to the rim and show off some creative finishes. Not only were they finishing at the rim but they both hit down some catch and shoot threes, the shots that the Gators have desperately needed to fall up until this point in the season. This is one of the first games Florida’s depth has really overwhelmed their opponent and the great play of Mann and Glover was a big part of it.

Final Thoughts

This was an encouraging win the team needed. Providence has really struggled this year and maybe this won’t end up being a great resume win but it’s the way in which the team won that’s most encouraging. The ball moved, the players looked confident, and it finally looked like the team was having fun and showing off just how talented they are. If the team can springboard off this performance with another good showing against Utah State they’ll be in great shape as they move towards the SEC part of their season.

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.