"My biggest concern I've been trying to stress and get in their minds is what happened tonight," Billy Donovan said on his postgame radio show. "We got off to a real good start and took too many threes in the first half. We started kicking it around and turning it over, then we got into a funk shooting and that totally effected our disposition on the court."
Donovan used words like ‘resiliency' and ‘fight' that were missing from his teams' performance. When the three pointers weren't falling near the end of the first half, the Gators kept throwing them up. As a result, Patric Young ended the first half with just one shot.
Donovan made sure to point that out to the guards at halftime.
"How many of you backcourt players would be in here happy with one shot?" Donovan recalled saying to the Florida guards at halftime. "Patric keeps playing and his motor is running. I was proud of his attitude. Our guys looked at it like he needed to get more shots up, and he got nine more up in the second half, which was good for our team."
The Florida guards opened the second half by throwing the ball to Young on back-to-back possessions, but the center missed both shots. It gave the Ohio State defense something to think about as Young got more involved, but Donovan was interested to know what might have happened if those shots went in.
"He didn't make the plays, which is okay, but we could've gotten some scores there to keep ourselves there," Donovan said. "We rushed and made some bad decisions and then felt sorry for ourselves."
Part of the reason the Florida guards struggled was the defense by Ohio State guard Aaron Craft. The sophomore recorded three steals and deflected plenty of other passes that slowed down the Florida offense.
"Craft was by far the guy that dominated the game," Donovan said. "He physically beat up our guards, and I don't mean that he fouled them. Within the framework of the game, he beat up our guards, and we couldn't handle him at times. He was stripping (Florida guards) and knocking balls out of their hands. He totally impacted the game from the perimeter defensively and offensively around the basket."
The rebounding was an issue early in the season. The Gators were outrebounded by UCF in a scrimmage and Catholic University in the preseason. On Tuesday, Florida outrebounded Ohio State by nine.
"Guys did a conscientious effort tonight to get to the boards and collectively rebound," Donovan said. "That was encouraging for me to see us outrebound them. Both teams for the most part shot a similar percentage from the field. The difference was that they took 34 free throws to our 21, and we didn't shoot it well from the free throw line."
The Gators will get just Wednesday to practice and regroup before hosting North Florida on Thursday night.
"Emotionally, being able to come back will be a big challenge," Donovan said. "All I'm finding out is that North Florida plays hard and is aggressive, while coming off a physical battle like this, we'll have a lot to get prepared for."