Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators routed on road as Alabama dominates both ends

By Jake Winderman
January 5, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators routed on road as Alabama dominates both ends
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

After a strong 2-0 start to SEC play with impressive wins over Vanderbilt and LSU, the Florida Gators dropped their first conference game of the season, 86-71, to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday night. The combination of Alabama’s strong transition offense and easy misses at the rim for Florida in the second half resulted in a comfortable 15-point win for the Crimson Tide, their first in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, since 2006.

The Gators, which were slotted 17th in the NET Rankings and as the first team out of the AP Top 25 this week, will likely see their national standing fall even if they are able to pull off a victory on Saturday to close the week.

What went down on Tuesday as Florida lost its second contest of the season? Keep on reading for our Fastbreak takeaways from the game.

It was over when … Alabama went on a 26-8 run spanning 9 minutes during the middle of the second half. Florida had trouble containing the Tide’s transition offense during that sequence, and the Gators offense resorted to taking off-balance jumpers late in the shot clock to try and get something going. Sophomore guard Scottie Lewis picked up his third foul during the start of the run, and it greatly impacted Florida’s ability to switch in transition on defense.

First half focus: Alabama’s rebounding and Florida’s inability to convert forced turnovers into points were the main factors in the the Tide taking a 39-32 lead at halftime. Alabama outrebounded Florida 25-17 on the glass in the first half with a 11-8 margin on offensive boards. Yale transfer Jordan Bruner garnered five offensive rebounds alone in the first 20 minutes for Bama.

The Gators were able to force nine first-half giveaways by the Tide but only converted them into nine points. Both teams shot above 55% from three-point range in the first half, but neither made more than 46% of their field goals in the first 20 minutes. Junior center Colin Castleton led the Gators with nine points and rebounds rebounds in the first frame, while four different players scored at least six points for Alabama.

Exceptional efforts: Despite an overall poor showing from Florida, junior point guard Tyree Appleby finished with a season-high 18 points, leading the way offensively. Appleby also contributed five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. When sophomore PG Tre Mann doesn’t have it going offensively, Appleby has to be the next guard to step up and take his place scoring-wise. Mann did a little bit of everything, posting 11 points, six dimes, six boards and three steals, but he hit just 4 of 11 shots from the field.

Castleton made his impact felt once again in the post, going for 13 points and eight rebounds, including offensive boards. While Castleton did finish an efficient 6 of 11 from the field, his misses included a few fairly easy looks from just a few feet away from the rim. Appleby and Castleton were the only UF players to shoot 50% or better from the field among those that took more than one shot.

Odds and ends: The Gators scored fewer than 75 points for just the second time this season and are now 61-62 under head coach Mike White when scoring 79 points or less compared to 52-3 when scoring 80+ … all 11 of Alabama’s fastbreak points came in the final 20 minutes…Florida shot under 42% for the first time this season, including an abysmal 18 of 48 (37.5%) from inside the arc … UF forced 13 Bama turnovers but only scored 16 points off those miscues … the Tide dominated the Gators 46-28 in paint scoring and held a 44-39 edge off the glass … Florida is now 70-76 all-time against Alabama, including 22-48 in road games and 4-3 under White

What it means: The on-court absence of junior forward Keyontae Johnson, who was with the team in a coaching role, was truly felt for the first time in this game. The Gators could have used Johnson’s physicality and transition defense to slow the Tide’s roll on Tuesday night. When Lewis picked up his third foul of the game with 16:11 left, Florida didn’t have a wing to replace what he did on both ends of the floor. Normally, Johnson would’ve picked up Lewis’ slack and vice-versa. Lewis finished with just two points on 1 of 6 shooting.

At the end of the day, a loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa is not the end of the world. The Tide were as high as a 3-point favorite coming into the game, and KenPom.com predicted a victory for Alabama as well. However, Florida won’t get another shot at the Tide this season as the two squads race towards a top-three finish in the SEC.

What’s next? The Gators return to the hardwood on Saturday when Florida hosts Kentucky at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Wildcats are coming off of a tight 77-74 win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday night but are a surprisingly bad 3-6 on the season. UK has started out 2-0 in SEC play.

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