Buckeyes Finally have Gators' Number

Unlike the last couple of meetings between the two schools, there was no national championship on the line when the Florida Gators faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes on the hardcourt on Saturday afternoon. And unlike the last two meetings, OSU easily handled the Gators on their home floor.

In their first big road test of the season, the Gators (11-2) suffered their second loss of the season at the hands of the Buckeyes (8-3). The Gators couldn't overcome poor shooting and turnovers in the 62-49 loss in Columbus, Ohio.

Nick Calathes drove to the basket in the final seconds and had his shot sent into the crowd at the Value City Arena. The play summed up the afternoon for Florida. The Gators shot just 33.3 percent from the floor, including a season-low 4-of-23 from behind the arc.

Marreese Speights led the way with 12 points and 5-of-10 shooting, but it wasn't nearly enough. Three different Buckeyes scored in double figures led by freshman center Kosta Koufos who scored 17. The same couldn't be said for Calathes who finished 1-of-9 from the floor with just four points.

At first, the hostile crowd didn't bother the Gators as they jumped out to an early 9-2 lead. The Buckeyes were dreadful from the floor, missing their first six shots, and it took more than four and a half minutes before OSU hit its first field goal.

For Florida, everyone got involved early. Four different Gators - Speights, Walter Hodge, Dan Werner and Alex Tyus – converted on Florida's first four buckets. By the end of the half, every Gator starter made their way into the scorebook.

It may have taken 10 minutes for the Buckeye shooters to heat up, but once they did, Ohio State lit it up from the outside making 4-of-8 three-pointers. Senior guard David Lighty led the way with 11 first half points.

And defensively, a match-up 3-2 zone caused the Gator offense to go cold, shutting down Florida's outside shooters. The Gators made just one field goal in the final six minutes of the first half when Calathes stole the ball from Koufos with three seconds remaining for his only field goal. But any momentum from the last second play failed to carry over to the second half.

The Buckeyes hot shooting allowed them to jump out to a 32-19 lead with 30 seconds remaining in the first half. This after trailing by seven points early. Florida struggled from behind the arc, making just 1-of-10 three-point attempts and turned the ball over nine times through the first 20 minutes. Florida also made just 3-of-6 first half free throws, while OSU connected on 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.

The second half saw much of the same. The Gators missed their first seven shots from the floor, while Ohio State continued their hot shooting. In the first eight minutes following the break, the Buckeyes knocked down two more threes and extended their 10-point halftime lead to 14 points with 12:01 remaining.

The closest Florida ever got to the Buckeyes was 11 points after Hodge converted on a steal with two minutes remaining in the game.

Florida did clean up their play in the second half, committing just four turnovers, but they could never overcome their poor outside shooting.

Jai Lucas finished with 11 points and Jonathan Mitchell finished strong with a three-pointer and a basket in the final five minutes.

The Gators head to Miami next week to face Temple in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski

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