Image Credit: ESPNI
No. 21 Florida Gators basketball (7-2) was inconsistent through much of Tuesday night and ultimately fell 84-74 to the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (9-1) in the second game of the 2016 Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Gators led early in the contest but fell way behind at the half and struggled to get back in the game over the final 20 minutes on their way to their second loss to a top-15 team this season.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s loss below.
It was over when … A deep three by senior forward Justin Leon cut Florida’s deficit to seven with 2:28 to play, and the Gators got a stop on the defensive end only to see their comeback efforts wiped out by sloppy play. Running back down the court, sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen overdribbled and passed the ball late for a bad turnover, allowing the Blue Devils to score a fastbreak layup on the other end and push their lead back up to nine.
Exceptional efforts: It was not a banner night for much of Florida’s team, though Allen was the most efficient scorer hitting 8-of-12 shots and 3-of-5 threes for a team-high 21 points. He barely contributed at all otherwise with four fouls, two turnovers and some missed assignments, only registering a steal otherwise on the evening. Junior F Devin Robinson probably had the most well-rounded night with 11 points, four boards and two steals, but he continues to be underutilized.
Significant stats: Duke got all of it scoring from three players. Seriously. Luke Kennard, Amile Jefferson and Jayson Tatum combined to score 75 of the Blue Devils’ 84 points. They hit 29-of-41 field goals, 5-of-7 threes (all Kennard) and 12-of-12 free throws. Jefferson added a game-high 15 boards, while Kennard scored a game-high 29 points on his own. It was silly. “They’re really good. Really good. We’re not as good,” Florida head coach Mike White said of Duke at the half. “… TOs are killing us offensively. … We’re really killing our defense.”
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 7, 2016
What it means: Florida falls to 1-9 under White against opponents ranked in the AP Top 25. The Gators are now 0-2 this season against the best teams they’ve faced, but that’s not necessarily a surprise considering they are two of the nation’s top programs. Florida has tested both Duke and Gonzaga, and though it’s lost both of those games, the experience should be great for UF moving forward this season.
Odds and ends: Florida led past the midway point in the first half but allowed Duke to end the period on a 15-3 run to take a 41-31 lead into the break … UF committed seven fouls in the final 7:34 of the first half after going 12:26 without a single call … the Gators trailed by as many as 14, marking their largest deficit of the season … Florida’s 69.9 percent shooting from the charity stripe was its second-lowest mark of the year … Duke’s 53.3 percent accuracy from the field and 15 assists were the best marks allowed by UF so far … the Blue Devils shot 12 more field goals in the first half, but Florida overcame that with 12 additional attempts in the second half … redshirt junior center John Egbunu went 2-for-9 from the field and 5-for-10 from the line but grabbed 10 boards and two blocks; he was tasked with defending Jefferson all night … junior point guard Chris Chiozza had an awful night with three turnovers in limited action
Up next: Florida will play its second true road game of the season on Sunday at Florida State. The game will tip at 4 p.m. and air live nationally on ESPNU.