Gators Struggle in Arkansas

After everything went right for the Florida Gators in their win against Vanderbilt last weekend, just about everything went wrong on Saturday afternoon. After a six-day layoff, the Arkansas Razorbacks crushed the Gators in Fayetteville, 80-61.

The Gators (18-4, 5-2 SEC) didn't have enough size, strength and physicality against the senior-laden Arkansas (16-5, 5-2 SEC) squad. Florida fell behind early and missed all 10 of their first half 3-point attempts, finishing the game 4-of-25 from downtown. Florida trailed by 25 at the half and never got closer than 22 points in the second half.

Arkansas jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, but a lay-up from Alex Tyus and a pair of jumpers from Nick Calathes and Jonathan Mitchell evened the score, 8-8, seven and a half minutes into the game. But that was the game's only tie and Florida never led. Arkansas went on a 17-2 run over the next six minutes to take a 25-10 lead.

The Gators exchanged baskets with the Hogs for the next couple of minutes, but the Razorbacks closed out the half with a 9-2 run to take a 25-point lead into the locker room. In addition to missing all 10 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, Florida shot just 29 percent from the floor in the first half. The Gators also turned the ball over seven times in the first half and only Calathes (6 points) scored more than five points in the first half.

The second half was more of the same. In an up-and-down game, the Gators never found their rhythm and couldn't stop Arkansas defensively. The Hogs shot 54 percent from the floor, shooting better than 50 percent in each half. Florida, on the other hand, made just 22-of-66 shots for 33 percent from the floor.

Arkansas stretched their halftime lead to 30 points, 62-32, midway through the second half, but Walter Hodge drained the Gators' first 3-point basket with 11:21 remaining and a Speights lay-up followed by a pair of free throws by Dan Werner cut the lead to 23. Hodge led the Gators with 13 points, making 50 percent of his shots and 2-of-7 from behind the arc.

Calathes reached double figures for the ninth straight game, scoring 12 points with seven assists, but most of his scoring came from the free throw line (6-of-7). Speights scored 12 and grabbed five rebounds. Jai Lucas failed to score for the Gators. Werner also struggled, making just one of eight shots from the floor.

Arkansas outscored the Gators 44-28 inside the paint and outscored the Florida bench 37-19 led by Gary Ervin who finished with 15 points.

The road doesn't get any easier for Florida as they now travel to Knoxville to face No. 7 ranked Tennessee on Tuesday night. With Florida's loss and a Kentucky win over Georgia, the Gators and Wildcats are now tied for second in the SEC East a game behind the Vols.

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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