Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators fail big test vs. No. 1 Baylor

By Adam Silverstein
January 25, 2020
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators fail big test vs. No. 1 Baylor

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Just one week ago, Florida Gators basketball was on top of the world and looked to have potentially turned a corner after knocking off a top-five team at home in its most complete effort of the season. Seven days later, Florida proved it is exactly the team we have seen for the rest of the 2019-20 season when it fell 72-61 in its toughest test yet against the No. 1 Baylor Bears inside the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The Gators (12-7) led by as many as eight points in the first half before falling off massively before halftime. They were never able to recover and wound up falling by double digits despite being just the fourth unranked team in the last 25 to enter the game as a favorite against the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25. The Bears (17-1) continued their magical season by proving they are simply on a different tier.

What went down Saturday night in Florida’s latest loss? Let’s take a look with some fastbreak takeaways from the game.

It was over when … Baylor quickly increased its lead to 19 points with an 11-2 run early in the second half. That extended its scoring stretch to 26-7 spanning halftime as it also ended the first 20 minutes with a 13-2 streak. Over that time, Florida went 2 of 17 from the field (1 of 10 to end the first half, 1 of 7 to start the second) and began the latter period 0 of 5 from beyond the arc. The Gators did cut their deficit to 10 with a 6-0 run in the final few minutes but never got closer as they missed the front end of three consecutive one-and-ones that could have helped them make a greater push. Florida led by as many as eight points in the first half, seeing a 19-point swing as Baylor took an 11-point lead at the break.

Exceptional efforts: Sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson was the only consistent scorer on the evening, hitting 9 of 17 shots for a game-high 20 points with five rebounds. After making just one of his first seven shots, sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard hit five of his final seven, scoring 12 points in the second half and 16 for the game to go along with eight assists and just one turnover.

Odds and ends: The Gators went 1 of 8 from long range in the second half … Baylor outrebounded Florida 37-26 (24-18 defensive, 13-8 offensive) … the Gators had just half as many turnovers (7-13) and dominated paint scoring (32-10) but had little help from their bench (11-21) … UF fell to 2-17 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams, 0-14 in the regular season … it is 1-6 vs. AP Top 5 and 15-26 against AP Top 25 teams under head coach Mike White (2-2 this season) … Saturday was Florida’s first game vs. a No. 1 team other than Kentucky in the O’Dome

What it means: The Gators are who we thought they were. When the shots are falling, they can play with most teams in the nation. When they do not fall, Florida cannot manufacture points, and its defense falls apart as it tires out from lack of depth, particularly in the paint. Neither Nembhard nor redshirt senior F Kerry Blackshear Jr. (nine points, 3 of 5 FG) nor sophomore guard Noah Locke (three points, 1 of 5 FG) are consistent enough to be counted on game to game. Nembhard may be one day. Blackshear is either in foul trouble, suddenly lacking aggressiveness or just missing shots. Locke can be hot for long stretches but then go ice cold. This is certainly not a championship team, and it’s not even a top 25 team. It is a NCAA Tournament team, but at 12-7, it still has work ahead of itself.

What’s next? After losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, Florida will remain home to host Mississippi State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET in a game that will air live nationally on SEC Network.

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