And the problems were the kind of issues you don't expect from a veteran team. The Gators were guilty of poor shot selection, struggled with dealing with their roles and lacked consistency. How do you explain losses to UCF and JU and wins over Florida State and Kansas State? You can't.
But that experience is starting to pay dividends in the most important situations away from the O'Connell Center. Florida has gone on the road three times in SEC play. None of the three games were easy, in fact two of them went to overtime, but Billy Donovan's squad found a way to escape Knoxville, Auburn and Athens with victories. Florida's resume of wins away from home is something that is bound to impress the NCAA selection committee come tournament time. They can further burnish that record in their five remaining conference road trips starting this Saturday in Starkville.
O'Dome Not So Sweet O'Dome
While the Gators have posted a number of impressive wins on the road, this team is not getting it done in the friendly environment of the O'Dome. The early season loss to Ohio State was understandable, but the Gators have also lost home games against Jacksonville and South Carolina. It's hard to understand how a veteran team that has done so well in tough settings cannot take care of business at home.
Florida has not lost more than four home games in a season since Billy Donovan's first season (1996-97). They are in danger of returning to that category with Kentucky, Vandy, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee still to visit Gainesville. If they do, they could end up back on the "bubble" where NCAA consideration is concerned. But if they can take care of business down the stretch and dominate on their home court the Gators will playing a lower seed in the first round of the "Big Dance" for the first time since 2007.
Hidden Stats of Note
I was looking over the Florida statistics Wednesday morning and some things really jumped out at me as I looked at the Gators' numbers in their six SEC games:
*** Florida is averaging just 10.2 turnovers a game while forcing 13
*** Kenny Boynton is 25-for-27 at the free throw line (.926)
*** Chandler Parsons is making half (11-for-22) of his 3-point shots
*** Parsons is leading the Gators on the boards with 8.3 rebounds a game
*** After holding Auburn (40) and Arkansas (43) to a combined 83 points the Gators allowed Georgia to score 91, and yet won all three games
*** The Gators are committing four fouls/g fewer than their opponents
*** Freshman Patric Young is making 72 percent (13-18) of his shots
*** No Gator has fouled out, but six SEC opponents have
Experience Starting to Pay Off
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