If the Florida Gators on the roster Tuesday had any respect for head coach Billy Donovan, they certainly did not show it. Florida (13-15, 6-9 SEC) was embarrassed once again this season as the worst team in the Southeastern Conference, losers of 13-straight games, upended the Gators 64-52.
The Missouri Tigers (8-20, 2-13 SEC) dominated the visitors over the latter 20 minutes of Tuesday’s contest, outscoring Florida 37-21 in the second half while ending the game on a 24-5 run at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri.
Donovan had no choice but to sit back and watch as his team struggled on both ends of the court, combining poor shooting in every facet of the game with lacking effort on defense and terrible decision making throughout the contest.
“We really made a lot of, really a lot of poor choices, things that — to be quite honest — left me scratching my head,” Donovan said. “We had Kasey Hill reaching across the out of bounds line for a technical foul, an Eli Carter foul before the ball ever came in bounds while the game was obviously in reach, a Devin Robinson foul. Our fouling enabled them to get to the free throw line. With 13 minutes to go we’re in the bonus and we never really could take advantage of it. For us, we got to the free throw line 23 times, which is drastically more than we normally go, but certainly hard to win when you go 9-for-23. Even when we did get there, we weren’t able to capitalize. We just didn’t make enough smart basketball plays in the game.”
OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s action with nine quick-hitters:
It was over when: Missouri guard Namon Wright bombed in a three-pointer with 4:16 remaining, pushing the hosts ahead by six and putting Florida in a deficit that it was unable to overcome. Wright, who averaged 5.4 points on 32 percent shooting entering Tuesday’s game, scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, hitting 6-of-8 treys. The Tigers only increased their lead from there. “We didn’t really have anybody [who could cover him],” Donovan said. “Give him credit. He really got it going, shot the ball very well. Tonight, he was a hard match-up for us. We really didn’t have anybody who could stop him.”
Significant stretches: The second half began with Wright scoring 10-straight points and going on a personal 7-0 run to give Mizzou the lead back at 37-35 with 16:17 to play. Florida responded immediately with a trey from redshirt junior forward Alex Murphy to kick off a 9-0 stretch that gave the Gators a team-high seven-point lead. Missouri answered right back with an 11-1 run to go up three as UF went 7:02 without a field goal and 5:10 without a point.
“I thought we were in good shape. I think it was a seven-point game when for us things started to change,” Donovan explained. “Out of nowhere, Chris Walker decides he’s a three-point shooter, you know? Is that shot for you or is that shot because it really helps our team win? Really a lot of poor choices by our guys.”
Prominent player: Wright was obviously the player of the game, but it was redshirt senior center Jon Horford who was most effecitve for the Gators, scoring 10 points and grabbing a team-high eight boards. Horford was relatively quiet in the second half of the contest, however, which coupled with his team’s poor shooting led to UF fumbling over the latter stages of the game.
First half focus: Mizzou opened up leading 14-8 on the back of an 8-0 run and four-straight missed field goals by UF. The Gators were able to tie things up at 21 on an 8-2 spurt during the latter part of the first half only to go on a 3:23 scoreless drought as the Tigers jumped ahead by three. Seven-straight points by freshman forward Devin Robinson, highlighted by a cock-back jam and three, along with a trey Horford allowed the visitors to take a 31-27 lead into the break.
Perfect play: Robinson’s cock-back jam, one of Florida’s top highlights of the year, was part of his personal 7-0 scoring stretch and will most likely be a top play in highlight packages Tuesday evening.
Standout stat: The Gators were a pitiful 9-of-23 from the charity stripe and unable to take advantage of the Tigers’ foul trouble despite Mizzou putting Florida in the bonus and double bonus for most of the second half. Sophomore point guard Kasey Hill was particularly bad with an 1-for-7 mark, though everyone except redshirt senior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz (5-of-7) combined to go 4-for-16. “It’s hard when your point guard goes 1-for-8 from the free throw line — that’s not good — and he’s 2-for-7 from the field. We didn’t get necessarily great play from him, obviously,” Donovan admitted.
What it means: UF lost to the worst team in the SEC as Missouri was on a 13-game losing streak entering Tuesday’s game. Donovan was unable to pick up win No. 500 in what was likely the last time he would be favored entering a game this season. The Gators scored 16 points in the second half.
Next up: Florida hosts Tennessee on Saturday.
Everything else: Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter went 1-for-7 from the field and 0-for-4 from three; he’s now on a 7-for-30 stretch over the last three games, hitting just 2-of-17 treys … Florida scored 21 points in the second half and was outscored by 10 points at the charity stripe
Billy Donovan after Kasey Hill gets technical foul for slapping ball on in-bounds: "Unbelievable." https://t.co/HPT9n9V6Lq
— Thomas Goldkamp (@ThomasGoldkamp) February 25, 2015