Nothing went right for the Gators on the defensive or offensive sides of the basketball on Saturday as the Gators went into Oxford and got pounded by the Ole Miss Rebels by a score of 68-51. Looking disjointed for most of the first half the Gators were lucky to enter the break only down by 6 but their luck ran out in the second as they continually struggled to get any open looks offensively and they couldn’t stop Ole Miss’ rampant ball movement on the other end. A win would have kept the Gators in the SEC title race only a game behind but with a loss they are now back by a pair and it’s unlikely they’ll be anywhere near the banner picture. Things should hypothetically get easier for the Gators on Wednesday against a lowly Texas A&M team but the Aggies did just hammer Missouri, a team that blew out the Gators, by 17 points. Florida will have to do everything they can to stop the bleeding as they are likely on the outside looking in of the NCAA Tournament picture and given what expectations were before the season that would be devastating.
Going long stretches without points has become regularity in Florida basketball games and Saturday’s game against the Rebels was no different. The first half saw the Gators go for 8 minutes without a field goal and in the second frame they went 5 minutes without putting a point on the board. That’s a recipe for getting blown out and the Rebels were ready to take advantage of these droughts, consistently putting up points and sinking the Gators further and further behind. Part of the reason these droughts have occurred is the Gators getting caught in tough lineups with all their offensive threats on the bench and Saturday saw the Gators in some puzzling player combinations that couldn’t get any rhythm going.
Unquestionably the best player on the floor was Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree who was getting anything he wanted offensively with the Gators watching as he finished with 23 points. He was largely left to go one-on-one with the Gators not wanting to send extra defenders and with that space he was operating at a high level, burning whoever the Gators put on him on his way to hitting big shots. It wasn’t just the offensive end where he did his work as he was clamping down Andrew Nembhard on the other end. With Tyree locking him down Nembhard finished with only 5 points, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers and when he’s taken out of the game the Gators are always going to struggle. Tyree’s performance against the Gators was as good as we’ve seen from any opponent and he deserves credit.
When the Gators took unranked Ques Glover they knew there was going to be an adjustment period for him but they probably didn’t anticipate needing to play him so minutes. One problem with having to play him so much is that he has really struggled with turnovers, a problem that reared its ugly head against Ole Miss as he finished with 4 turnovers in only 8 minutes of play. Going back to the game against Georgia that now means he has turned the ball over 7 times in his last 14 minutes and that is really hurting the Gators. Against the Rebels the turnovers killed any momentum the Gators had offensively and it also allowed Ole Miss to go get easy points in transition. Glover is still learning the SEC caliber of play and the Gators will need to find a way to keep him out of difficult positions where he might turn the ball over.
Offensively the Gators only shot 33% and defensively they gave up 47% to the Rebels and both of those numbers are going to get you beat. Whether it’s the scheme or the individual player’s execution something has gone terribly wrong for the team and it’s resulting in poor play on both sides of the court. Offensively the Gators looked uninspired as they moved through their sets, not cutting hard or looking dynamic when they received the ball. Defensively, they were getting strung out and caught in rotations, scrambling to try and recover to new checks when someone was first beat off the dribble. There weren’t many winning basketball plays from the Gators and they looked generally disorganized and uninterested and that has to be a major concern moving forward.