Gators Get Knocked Out of Tournament

Coming off an impressive victory over Auburn, the Gators played one of their worst games of the year against Mississippi State in the second round of the SEC Basketball Tournament. Due to Udonis Haslem being on the bench for most of the first half and 32% shooting from the floor, the Gators lost 62-52.

The officials in the game caught the ire of Billy Donovan. They were calling fouls the Donovan thought they could have used, "better judgment" on. But the officials were not the only problem that faced this Gator team. Udonis Haslem and Matt Bonner, two of the top three scorers on the Gator team, combined to score 14 points. And Brett Nelson scored only 10 points, five points below his average. "I didn't feel like our offense was effective at all," Donovan said. "Our guys did not grind it out on the offensive end and were not patient at all with their shots."

The Gators had a tough time because they could not make any shots. The Gators use their offense to set up their pressing defense. But when they are not making shots there is no way to set up the press and create turnovers. This is one reason that the Bulldogs took care of the ball and only gave up 10 turnovers. To press for forty minutes a game, the Gators needed to have intensity. Intensity was something that Donovan thought his team lacked. But Donovan was also disappointed with other intangibles that could have given his team a better chance to win the game. "I was disappointed with our intensity, our heart, our character, and all of the many things that it takes to grind out a game like that," said Donovan.

This team has struggled in the SEC tournament in previous years and to win four games in a row this year would have been very difficult. But there were bright spots in the loss. The bench played one of its best games of the year. Donovan thought that his bench, "Played great. David and Bonell came in and gave us some quality minutes." This team has a lot to work on before the NCAA Tournament. The players and coaches are anxious to get back to Gainesville so they can find out what the problem that has plagued them all year is.

So now the Gators have to wait and see where the NCAA Tournament selection committee sticks them. A four seed seems pretty likely. And the Gators will almost certainly have to travel far from home. But history says the teams in a conference that beat each other up all year long, like in the SEC, usually go deep in the Big Dance. So don't be surprised if the Gators click and do really well in their run for a National Championship. But then again, don't be surprised if the Gators get knocked out in the second round, like they did a year ago.

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