The Gators shot 38.6 percent (22-57) from the field and went 1-12 from behind the three-point line, falling 66-55 at No. 17 Miami on Tuesday at the BankUnited Center.
Florida (6-2 had just seven assists on 22 made field goals while turning the ball over 10 times. The Gators trailed for all but 30 seconds -- when they held a 6-5 lead and were constantly chase the Hurricanes (8-1). Florida cut the lead to one point with 2:43 left in the first half, but Miami ended the half on an 8-0 run to head into the half with a comfortable nine-point lead.
“They finished the first half really strong,” Florida coach Mike White said on the postgame radio show. “We had some turnovers, they hit big threes to give them that lead. In the second 20-minutes, they maintained a lead that was close to that for the rest of the game.”
The Gators simply didn’t have the firepower offensively to get back in the game. Their 55 points are the team’s lowest this season.
“It was arguably our worst offensive game, but we’re going to have some of those nights,” White said. “We aren’t shooting the ball particularly well right now. It doesn’t give you a great chance on the road.”
Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three-pointer almost midway through the first half, and it was the only one the Gators hit. If it didn’t fall, Florida’s nation-best streak of 805 games with one three-pointer, which dates back to January 11, 1992 at Kentucky, would have been snapped.
The scariest part for Florida is that Miami didn’t shoot well. The Hurricanes came into the game in the top 15 nationally in field goal percentage but shot just 39.2 percent on Tuesday, still managing to beat the Gators by double figures. The 66 points scored for Miami are its lowest point total this season.
“They came out and got a couple easy baskets early, played with a lead for 30 minutes and it gave them some confidence,” White said. “There were ball-screen coverages that we just screwed up, a lack of communication in transition. You’re playing from behind the entire game.”
White was happy with the Florida defense, calling it the “team’s strength until we can find guys that can continually step up and shoot the basketball from the perimeter.” The Gators have been able to lean on their offensive rebounding abilities so far this season, but that disappeared on Tuesday. They didn’t hit the glass hard enough and White was unhappy with their effort while trying to gain extra possessions.
“I was really displeased with our ability to get to the offensive glass considering that we’ve been one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country,” White said. “They won that physicality matchup and took the fight to us. We never got into a good rhythm until late in the game in terms of getting to the offensive glass.”
Florida’s tests don’t get any easier. They stay on the road Saturday to face No. 1 Michigan State.