Gators Overpowered in Arkansas

The youngest team in the SEC went on the road Saturday to face the most experienced team in the league. Simply put, the kids got their butts kicked.

Florida was outplayed, out-toughed and out-manned in an 80-61 loss in Fayetteville that was far more one-sided than the 19-point margin might tend to indicate. The Gators trailed by more than 20 points for the final four minutes of the first half and the entire second half before a late "3" from Walter Hodge created the final margin. The Gators were killed on the glass by the biggest, most athletic team in the SEC, despite the final stat sheet that showed only a 38-33 discrepancy.

Gators Completely Three-Pendent

Once again the Gators find themselves on the short end of the scoreboard thanks in no small part to a miserable night shooting the basketball. Florida made just 4-of-25 shots from long range including missing the first 13 attempts from beyond the arc. When you have a short bench, a lack of size and experience you simply must make shots. There is nothing coincidental about the following numbers:

Florida State -- 4-of-23 (3-point FG) -- 51-65 (score)
Ohio State -- 4-of-23 -- 49-62
Ole Miss -- 9-of-32 -- 87-89
Arkansas -- 4-of-25 -- 61-80

In four losses the Gators are a dreadful 21–for–103 (.204) from three point range and it is virtually certain the Gators will lose ANY SEC game when they are not shooting the ball well. As if you need further evidence, the Gators are shooting an impressive .421 from outside the arc in their 18 wins.

Sure, you have to be concerned about rebounding, responding to physical play and all the rest of factors, but the bottom line is clear: this team is completely three-pendent. I know that's not a word, but it tells the story well – if they make threes, they're good, and if they don't, they're not. You would like to have seen the team get to the point where that wasn't the case after 21 games, but I've been convinced for quite some time it won't change this year. The Gators simply don't have enough physical skill to force turnovers or dominate the glass that would give them that margin for error.

But this is still a very talented basketball team that has done a phenomenal job getting to this point 18-and-4, 5-and-2 in the SEC. the challenge will be for this team to learn to not let poor shoot starts snowball into poor shooting nights. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back from this with very short preparation time for a Tuesday night game in Knoxville. That game is far more important than the Arkansas game was, and believe it or not it's more winnable. Arkansas is the toughest SEC match up for the Gators, even though Tennessee is the better team. The Gators don't need to win in Rocky Top for this season to continue on a positive track, but they must be a helluva lot more competitive in the Smokies than they were in the Ozarks.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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