Shooting Woes Sink the Gators in Orlando

ORLANDO -- Florida head coach Billy Donovan knows his offense is searching. The continuity is gone, and they look like a group playing together for the first season. The frustration comes from the fact that every starter is back from last year. The offense continued to sputter as UCF beat the Gators 57-54 Wednesday at the Amway Center.

"I'm very concerned about (the offensive continuity)," Billy Donovan said. "All of our older guys are way, way too wrapped up in their own offense. We're not a cohesive team, certainly not on the offensive side of the floor."

The Gators shot 42% from the field, but the offense lacked ball movement. Vernon Macklin scored 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds in only 20 minutes of play. He was 10-for-11 from the field.

Without Macklin's shooting, the rest of the team shot 28%.

When the game was close down the stretch, the Gators seemed to go away from Macklin. Donovan knew there was risk with his struggles from the free throw line this season, but the center didn't touch the ball in key situations.

"Those guys should just know the ball needs to go inside," Donovan said. "But I think we get wrapped up when we're not scoring or getting touches and looks.

"They're not utilizing each guy's individual talents, and the disappointing thing is that these guys all played together last year."

Despite the struggles on offense, the Gators still had a chance to win. Down 53-52, Kenny Boynton got a steal with 53 seconds remaining. The Gators called timeout to draw up a play, but it didn't finish. Boynton took a shot from behind the free throw line that didn't go in.

The play was supposed to end with Chandler Parsons coming off a double screen heading towards the basket. If the shot wasn't there, Parsons could dump the ball to Macklin for the finish.

After Boynton missed the shot, the Knights went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to close out the game. Donovan knows his team had a chance to take the lead late in the game, but he wasn't ready to accept that.

"We didn't deserve to be in that position," Donovan said. "If we would've won the game, it would've been a complete steal. I would've felt bad for Donnie. I would've gave him the win."

Two seniors led the struggles from the field. Parsons and Alex Tyus combined to go 1-for-14 from the field. It was billed as a homecoming for Parsons, who is from nearby Casselberry, but it was a nightmare offensive performance. Parsons had more than 70 friends and family members in attendance.

Parsons went 1-for-9 from the field. He also went 0-for-6 from the free throw line, including an air ball late in the first half.

"We don't have very good chemistry on offense with this group right now," Donovan said. "That's the disappointing part. If you had a bunch of new guys, you sit there and try to get the new pieces together. These are older guys that are less focused on what they can be doing to help the group get better.

"You always hear that a great player makes everyone else around them better. We have a bunch of guys on the floor that make nobody better."

The struggles from the free throw line continued Wednesday. Florida went 10-for-18 (55.6%), with Parsons contributing six of the misses. Macklin also went 0-for-2 from the line.

"Right now, the best way I can put it is we're not playing with a clear head. Just play the game. The other thing is, Vernon needs to get in the gym more on his own like he did a year ago. His free throw shooting has really drastically dropped off from a year ago.

"It's a great lesson for our older guys. Chandler and Vernon last year had this great edge about trying to compete and doing things they needed to do. Chandler, with the way he's shooting free throws, that looked like he did his sophomore year."

The Gators return to action Sunday in Washington, D.C., where they will take on American. Tip off is set for 2:30 p.m.
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