Gators Struggle with Turnovers in Loss to OSU

The Gators needed to create turnovers with their press if they wanted a chance to upset No. 4 Ohio State Tuesday night. Instead, it was the Florida offense that looked lackadaisical. They turned the ball over 18 times on their way to getting blown out by the Buckeyes, 93-75.

"It's a huge concern for me," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said of the turnovers. "A lot of that has to do with discipline. When your point guard (Erving Walker) has seven turnovers in a game where it's not a pressing game, and we're trying to press, we got stagnant."

With as shaky as the ball handling was for the Gators, they couldn't create turnovers to counter. Ohio State only turned the ball over eight times. The Buckeyes wanted to play a half court game, not putting any pressure on the Gators until the ball crossed the half court line.

Meanwhile, No. 9 Florida's press got gashed.

The game became a blowout in the second half because Ohio State freshman point guard Aaron Craft found ways to break the press, often times ending in an easy dunk for Buckeyes center Jared Sullinger.

When Sullinger was guarded, which didn't happen often as he scored 26 points, the Buckeyes threw the ball outside. They shot 54.5% (6-11) for 3 in the second half, where they outscored the Gators 55-34.

"I don't think we were rotating good enough," Florida forward Chandler Parsons said. "Their guys did a good job handling the ball. Once they got past our front line, they had guys knocking down shots because we weren't able to rotate fast enough."

The Gators forced 20-plus turnovers in the two exhibitions and one regular season game this season, and Ohio State took notice. They watched the Florida press on tape and used a few options to break it.

"We put in a press breaker for this game, and it was pretty effective," Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said. "There was only one time where we didn't do what we were supposed to do, and it became chaotic for us."

The press allowed multiple open shots, but the Florida half court defense wasn't good either. The press is directed towards forcing turnovers, or at least making the opposition work, before they can settle into a half court offense. It didn't do either.

Instead, Ohio State shooters ran wide open, evidenced in the Buckeyes shooting 62.9% from the field.

"They were getting the ball anywhere they wanted to go and scoring in whichever way they wanted to score," Donovan said. "It was not a defensive exhibition out there by both teams. The difference was we're pressing the entire game, and we turn them over eight times. They're not pressing, and we turn it over 18 times. Our disciple and decision making has got to get way, way better."

Florida turned the ball over seven times during the first half but had a 41-38 lead at the break. They shot 60% in the first half to hold that lead, and the shooting percentage actually increased in the second half, ending at 61.2%.

The Gators dominated the rebounds in the first half, taking a 19-8 advantage on the boards. Florida even outrebounded the Buckeyes for the entire game, 28-20. The size advantage for Ohio State didn't keep the Gators out of the painted area.

Whenever the Gators weren't turning the ball over, the offense was able to score. However, it was the decision-making and discipline that failed the Gators. Walker play out of control for most of the game as the point guard, often ending with the ball in an Ohio State player's hands.

"We're just really right now totally undisciplined and making poor decisions," Donovan said. "That's an area I have to take responsibility as a coach to help the guys get better."

Kenny Boynton led the Gators in scoring with 21. He was 8-for-14 from the field and 5-for-8 for 3. It was a drastic increase from the season opener against UNC-Wilmington, when Boynton went 0-for-6 for three. He scored early from the outside, and when the Ohio State defenders came out to guard him, he drove to the basket late in the game.

The Gators have only one day to regroup before hosting North Carolina A&T Thursday night at 7 p.m.
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