As effective as the Gators have been on the defensive end of the floor, they’re struggling to score enough points to win. The three-point shot hasn’t been falling this year without a consistent shooting threat on the roster.
Freshman KeVaughn Allen showed flashes of becoming the team’s best perimeter shooter during his 32-point game on Tuesday, but the Gators needed more.
“(FSU was) so good offensively that maybe it would’ve taken KeVaughn’s performance plus another one,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Or maybe half of another one.”
The Gators were still in the game despite being 4-25 from behind the three-point line. Florida players other than Allen were 1-18 from long range against the Seminoles. White pointed to a few of those misses, saying that if some went down, the Gators would’ve been in position to win.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Gators were caught searching for any offense other than Allen. Dorian Finney-Smith and Kasey Hill were the only other players in double figures, both hitting exactly 10 points.
“I’m not down on our shot selection,” White said. “We’ve just got to keep taking good ones, keep having faith in each other that those shots will go. We’ve got to stay in the gym, but our guys have been in the gym. We’ve taken a ton of shots.”
White’s frustration has been when the team’s energy level is determined by whether or not shots are falling, and that showed up again on Tuesday night.
“If we’re going to thrive and play with energy off made jump shots and are going into a game banking on doing that, then it’s insanity,” White said. “Numbers will tell you that we better hang our hat on something else.”
AVOIDING A TIMEOUT
When Dwayne Bacon hit a 10-foot jumper with 4.6 seconds remaining to give the Seminoles a two-point lead, the Gators could’ve called timeout to set up a play. However, when FSU coach Leonard Hamilton called a timeout before the possession, White and the Florida staff had already decided they wouldn’t call a timeout regardless of whether FSU made or missed their shot.
They chose to use the three-guard lineup and hope to get a good shot. The ball was inbounded to Florida point guard Chris Chiozza, but FSU made it difficult for him to get a good look, heaving up a long three-point attempt that missed at the buzzer.
“We decided in the timeout, make or miss, let’s get a push,” White said. “Obviously you wished (Bacon’s) shot goes in with a couple more seconds, but we had 4.5-5 seconds. We’ve drilled it (in practice). Our guards know with 4+ (seconds), you’ve got four dribbles.
“We talked about just getting to the rim since they were in a situation at that point where they’d try not to foul. They just did a good job of walling Chris off, leveling him off and forcing him to the sideline. It wasn’t the best look, not the look we’d like to have gotten.”
FREE THROWING SHOOTING INCONSISTENT
The Gators haven’t shot well from the free throw line this season, but down the stretch on Tuesday, they showed signs of coming out of it. After opening the game 4-10 from the free throw line, the Gators had multiple chances.
Down five points with 2:11 left, Hill hit two straight free throws to cut the lead to three. After FSU missed a three-pointer, Finney-Smith was fouled while grabbing the rebound and hit back-to-back free throws to cut the FSU lead to one point.
White is hoping that those late free throws will carry into future games.
“I’m glad we made those there,” White said. “We’ve got to make them more consistently. It wasn’t the biggest factor in the game, but I’m glad those guys stepped up late for sure. With us, it’s not a lack of getting in the gym, I assure you that, especially Kasey Hill. That guy lived in the practice facility. You’d just hope he’d get rewarded, like he was tonight with those two, more often.”