As the legend goes, before the battle of Thermopylae a messenger was sent to King Leonidas by Xerxes I imploring the Spartan king to surrender to his forces. Upon multiple denials, the messenger retorted, “our arrows will blot out the sun.” A Spartan general replied, “then we will fight in the shade.”
If you’ve ever seen the movie “300” or are familiar with the story, the Gators were the Spartans on Saturday night and Columbia, Missouri was Thermopylae. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for the Spartans in the movie.
Missouri shot the lights out in a dominant 91-75 win over the Gators, leading by double-digits for more than 28 minutes of the game and stretched its lead out to 24 at one point.
Coming off of a tremendous effort in a come from behind win over Alabama and a road win at South Carolina the Gators came out flat, started the game shooting just 1-10 and didn’t show much in the way of effort on the defensive end. Kerry Blackshear was the only player to show up in the first half. The graduate senior scored 11 of the first 20 UF points and finished with 22 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
Missouri came into the game 10th in the SEC in three-pointers (30.5%). They were 15-20 (75%) from range against the Gators. The Tigers were the SEC’s 13th best offense, averaging just 66.7 points per game. They matched a season-high in points (91 points in a win over Chicago State) Saturday. Finally, the Tigers came into the contest shooting just 42.6% (13th in the league) but shot 61.5% against Florida.
It was an uncharacteristic shooting performance from the Tigers, but an all too increasingly characteristic performance from a Mike White led basketball team that just can’t seem to handle success. After winning the Charleston Classic Florida was hardly competitive against Butler on the road. They beat an average Providence team in Brooklyn but lost their next game to Utah State.
The Gators will return home this week after getting knocked off their pedestal once again but it doesn’t get any easier. Florida will host Ole Miss (9-6) Tuesday night and then, on Saturday, an undefeated Auburn (15-0).