Offense Betrays Gators As They Fall 61-54 To Butler

Finding offense continues to be a major issue for the Gators as they fell to the Butler Bulldogs by a score of 61-54 in their final game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Though they defended well enough to win the game they couldn’t find enough buckets particularly in the second half where they went 1-12 from the three-point line as they desperately probed for any available points. Kamar Baldwin stole the show for Butler by pouring in 19 points but his work on the defensive end was equally if not more impressive as he suffocated KeVaughn Allen all night and kept him to 3 points on 1-5 shooting in 29 minutes. Deaundrae Ballard’s confident tournament continued with 11 points while Andrew Nembhard filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists without committing a single turnover. Florida will have a chance at revenge against Butler on December 29th when the Bulldogs come to Gainesville.

Dry Spell

Here are the upsetting offensive numbers from the Gators tonight.

34.6% from the field.
29.6% from three.
62.5% from the free throw line.

Seniors KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson struggling to score continues to be the major storyline as the Gators come up dry on offense and tonight they combined for 5 points in 43 minutes. Keith Stone also had a tough night going 2-9 and when you add it all up there’s just no way for the Gators to be efficient while their seniors are ineffective. Coach White is going to have to find a way to get these guys going and to be frank, I have no idea what that could be.

Youth Movement

While the veterans struggled the young players on the Gators showed some serious potential. I mentioned Andrew Nembhard’s fantastic night and what makes it even more impressive is that he did it being guarded by Aaron Thompson for most of the night, a really good shutdown guard that has made a name for himself in the Big East as a guy you don’t want to play against. Nembhard having 0 turnovers against him while getting 7 assists (on a night where his teammate’s shots weren’t falling) is incredibly impressive and shows the Gators got a good one. Noah Locke (19 minutes), Keyontae Johnson (16 minutes), and Deaundrae Ballard (20 minutes) all have established themselves as regulars in the rotation and it seems that if the veterans aren’t playing up to the Gator standard Coach White is more than happy to give the young players reps.

Okauru Out Of The Mix

Michael Okauru has found himself on the outside looking in when it comes to the rotation the last few games and tonight was no different as he had only 2 minutes. Some of that is due to the success of the other young guys I mentioned earlier but if the Gators continue to struggle to score I could see Coach White trying out all kinds of different lineup combinations.

Missing The Middle

It would be naïve to think a healthy Isaiah Stokes and Chase Johnson would have made the offensive showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis much better but having some inside presence certainly couldn’t hurt and I think you can keep that in mind a bit when evaluating this team. However, the fact that they have both had multiple injuries makes banking on them ever being 100% a little tough right now.

Bright Spot

Butler is a really good offensive team and the Gators showed once again that they are an elite defensive squad. Averaging over 80 points per game this season their 61-point output was well below the average and we saw good things from the Gators defensively, particularly as they fell from their zone press back into a switching man defense. At least things are going well for the Gators on one side of the court.

Up Next

The Gators welcome North Florida to Gainesville on Tuesday. The Ospreys have played some good teams tough this year and could give the Gators an issue while their torrent 3-point shooting if they can’t score enough to keep up with them.