Gators fall short to #11 Gonzaga

The Florida Gators (5-1) showed Friday night that they have enough athleticism and overall skill to play with the number 11 team in the country in Gonzaga (5-0). They also showed that putting the ball in the basket remains an issue, an issue that cost them a win 77-72 over a really good team in the Zags.

The Gators led Gonzaga 37-32 at halftime behind a ferocious defense that caused eight of the 16 Gonzaga turnovers in the first several minutes of the contest. The Gators relied on junior forward Devin Robinson (18 pts, 5 rebs) to start the game and he scored the first nine points for the orange and blue.

In the end, the team shot just 36.9% and even worse, just 10.5% (2-19) from the three-point line while their counterparts shot 51.7% from the field and 43.8% from behind the arc.

Despite the offensive woes, the Gators made a game of it with tenacious defense both down the court and in the paint. Florida junior center John Egbunu (12 pts, 7 rebs) was able to block four shots to go with his offensive production. Egbunu and sophomore Kevarrius Hayes were pressed with the job of playing three interior players that were all close to or stood seven feet tall.

The two Gator big men held Gonzaga center Ptermak Karnowski to just 6 points and 5 rebounds, well below his averages. Karnowski and fellow center Killian Tillie both fouled out of the contest. Tillie finished with 3 points and 6 boards.

With all of the size on the court, Florida held their own in the rebound department finishing with a 34-38 disadvantage, of note are the number of defensive rebounds that were had by Gonzaga because of missed shots.

The Gators were led in scoring by Robinson, Egbunu, sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen (15 pts), and senior wing Canyon Barry (12 pts, 5 rebs), the only four Gators scoring in double digits on the night.

Unfortunately the awful shooting from the floor offset a tremendous night at the free throw line. The charity stripe is a spot where the Gators worked hard in the offseason to improve. On Friday, Florida hit 22-of-24 shots from the free throw line, a 91.7% clip.

In the end the Gators did almost everything right except hit from the floor and defend the three. The latter was a product of a worn out Gator team in the second half as the Zags made sure to move the ball around the court and make the Gators work after so many empty offensive trips.


UP NEXT: The Gators will face Miami (4-1), losers to #21 Iowa State 73-56 earlier in the day on Friday. The two square off Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in the third place game of the Advocare Invitational. 

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