Hot Shooting Missouri Team Downs Gators 91-75

Florida ran into a buzz saw Saturday night on the road against the Missouri Tigers, a team who uncharacteristically shot 12-18 from three (66.7%), a number the Gators couldn’t overcome. Entering the game 280th in the country in 3-point percentage at 30.5% the Tigers aren’t ever expected to catch fire from deep but attempt after attempt was falling for them and they dug the Gators into a hole too deep for them to escape. Florida actually shot the long ball well themselves at 43.5% but it simply wasn’t enough to catch up the Tigers as they ultimately fell by a score of 91-75. This was a game Florida was favored in and a loss that could definitely hurt them in the standings later on.

The Law Firm Of Smith, Smith, And Smith

Mitchell Smith, Mark Smith, and Dru Smith of Missouri had the shooting games of their lives going a combined 7-11 and their makes in the first half set the tone for what was a tremendous overall offensive effort for Missouri. A lot of their makes were just outstanding shot making over defenders but some of them were missed rotations for by the Gators and they weren’t able to keep the ball out of their hands.

Defensive Woes

Missouri’s three-point barrage was definitely some great performances from their shooters but it also was largely a poor defensive effort from the Gators. They particularly struggled in screen and roll defense where Missouri’s ball handlers would relentless put Kerry Blackshear in difficult defensive positions. He struggled on Florida’s side of the court whether it was stopping dribble penetration or getting out to shooters and a lot of Missouri’s offense came from those pick and rolls.

As much as the three-point shooting is going to get a lot of the discussion Florida’s interior defense was poor as well. They allowed 40 points in the paint which shows just how scrambled their defense was. Allowing 12 threes and 40 points in the paint is going to lose you a lot of games and that’s what happened against the Tigers. The three-pointers allowed as well as the points at the rim were also connected as many of the threes came when Missouri drove into the paint and the Gators had to recover. There is a lot that Florida will be looking at before they take on Ole Miss Tuesday.

Getting To The Line

While Kerry Blackshear had a difficult game on the defensive end he made up for it at times on offense with 22 points, 10 of which came at the charity stripe. He battled inside for position and pressured Missouri’s interior players and it resulted in some valuable points.

Coming Back To Earth

After two straight 20-point games for Andrew Nembhard he had a much tougher game going for 8 points and 4 assists but at the expense of 4 turnovers. A lot of the reason he wasn’t as involved was because Florida went away from the pick and roll offense that was effective in the previous two contests and that didn’t allow him to be in the same playmaking roles. Some of his turnovers came when he was trying to create something out of nothing and while those plays worked for him the last two games he wasn’t so lucky against Missouri.

Starting To Heat Up?

Seldom-used Tre Mann got on the floor and had some good minutes with 7 tough points when the Gators needed buckets. Missouri’s pressure defense was taking away a lot of what Florida wanted to do and they needed someone who could improvise and Mann was that player off the bench. The Gators lack big-time scorers and Mann was just that in high school but we haven’t seen it yet at the college level. Hopefully Saturday night was a step forward for him.

Final Thoughts

This was a disappointing performance for the Gators as they didn’t play well enough to win on either side of the floor. Yes, a bad shooting Missouri team happened to shoot the lights out but the Gators also only mustered a 38.5% mark from the field while turning it over 14 times and their offense never looked crisp either. Nothing seemed to be working and the team didn’t seem to be jiving or playing off each other and that’s what makes the loss sting. They won’t have much time to switch things up before a game with Ole Miss on Tuesday night back in Gainesville.

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.