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No. 19 Florida Gators basketball (14-4, 5-1 SEC) dropped its first game in league play on Wednesday with its worst performance of the 2016-17 season, falling 57-53 to the No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks (15-3, 6-0 SEC) on the road in Columbia, South Carolina.
It was a stunningly bad shooting performance that did Florida in as the Gators were inefficient in all three phases of the offensive game, failing to hit a single outside shot on the afternoon with all of their points coming either in the paint or at the free throw line. As such, Florida ended a streak of making at least one three-pointer in 850 consecutive games spanning 25 years back to Jan. 11, 1992.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest loss below.
It was over when … The truth is that the game did not truly end until the final few seconds, but in such a low-scoring, defense-first contest, the Gators inability to score coming out of halftime did them in. Florida went 1-for-15 from the field out of the break, watching its seven-point lead become a five-point deficit as South Carolina outscored the visitors 14-2. UF never led again.
Exceptional Efficient effort: Despite his five fouls, senior point guard Kasey Hill was the only UF player who was truly efficient on the evening as he hit 5-of-8 shots for 11 points, almost all of them coming in the first half. Once Hill fouled out and handed the reigns to junior PG Chris Chiozza, the game was basically lost for the Gators (though Chiozza did have a very nice floater near the end of the contest). Chiozza finished 1-of-4 from the field with five turnovers.
Significant stats: Where to begin? Let’s start with the obvious: The Gators went 0-for-16 from downtown, going without a made three in a game for the first time in 25 years. In fact, Florida did not hit a single jump shot in the entire game with all 53 of its points coming from inside the paint (38) or at the free throw line (15).
Don’t get it twisted: The Gators were no better at the charity stripe, hitting just 15-of-28 attempts after showing significant improvement at the line all season. UF missed its first seven shots of the game and 14 of 15 to open the second half, finishing 19-for-54 from the field on the evening.
In addition to the horrible shooting effort, Florida was horrendous with its ball handling. In a game of 31 combined turnovers, UF committed the majority (16). The absurd officiating, led by Teddy Valentine, resulted in 55 fouls in the game, of which the Gators were responsible for 27.
Odds and ends: Florida trailed most of the first half but saw South Carolina take over in the second half despite being winded … seven players in the game committed at least four fouls … previously red-hot graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry went 4 of 13 and missed all six of his threes to score a team-high 13 points … similarly scorching redshirt freshman G Keith Stone went 0-for-3 from downtown and 1-for-5 from the line with four fouls in 23 minutes … sophomore G KeVaughn Allen was completely taken out of the game with one point and four fouls in 19 minutes … redshirt junior center John Egbunu returned to the starting lineup and played 22 minutes but scored just seven points while hitting only 3-of-7 free throws … UF was once again outrebounded, this time 41 to 37
What it means: This loss was not a surprise. In fact, I predicted it before the game began. What was shocking, however, was how poor of a shooting performance the Gators put together, even if they did play an exceptional defensive team in the Gamecocks. Ultimately, this counts as a ranked loss for Florida, and it also means that UF has now lost to the four best teams its faced this season and no one else. What’s especially rough for the Gators is that this was their first of three road games in a four-game stretch.
Up next: Florida will play its lone remaining home game this month on Saturday when it hosts Vanderbilt at noon. The game will air live nationally on CBS.