Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators outclassed, embarrassed at No. 3 Alabama

By OnlyGators.com Staff
February 8, 2023
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators outclassed, embarrassed at No. 3 Alabama

Image Credit: UAA

If the Florida Gators’ aspirations of advancing to the 2023 NCAA Tournament were on shaky ground entering Wednesday night’s tilt against the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide, consider them now on the verge of falling through the earth. Florida was walloped 97-69 at Alabama for the Gators’ worst loss of the season at the most inopportune time.

Florida has now lost three of its last four games, a stretch in which it played a trio of top-five opponents and a road game at Kentucky. (UF faced four different top-five teams in the same season for the first time in program history this year.)

The Gators also concluded a difficult period in which they played five of seven games on the road. Still, they showed little fight and (once again) even less scoring ability in a key spot on a national stage.

There is still a lot of basketball ahead for Florida, but the margins are as thin as ever with less than a month remaining in the regular season. What went down Wednesday night, and what’s ahead for the Gators? Let’s take a look with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … the Tide ended the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 29-point lead into the break. This followed a 23-4 scoring stretch from Alabama over 6:43 earlier in the period as Florida once again struggled to find the bottom of the basket in key situations. The Gators shot just 23.3% from the field (7/30 FG) and missed all five of their 3-point attempts while allowing the Tide to drain 9 of 17 triples (!) in the opening 20 minutes. Redshirt senior forward Colin Castleton was the only Florida player to make more than one basket in the first half as a trio of guards — sophomore Will Richard and redshirt seniors Myreon Jones and Kyle Lofton — combined to go 0 for 11 from the floor.

Florida never got closer than 17 points in the second half and allowed Alabama to take a game-high 30-point lead with 4:20 to play. UF only made two baskets over the final 6:52 of the game.

Exceptional efforts: Castleton accounted for nearly half of the Gators’ offensive production, scoring a game-high 29 points on 9 of 18 shooting while making 11 of 14 free throws. He added 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season with two assists and two blocks. Castleton now sits tied with Al Horford for third on Florida’s career blocks list with 189. (He needs 25 more to move into second place, which would only be possible with a deep postseason run.) Other than Castleton, freshman G Riley Kugel stepped up with a career-high 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half on 5 of 6 shooting in the latter period. He also hauled in six boards.

Odds and ends: Florida fell to 70-78 all-time against Alabama with a 22-49 record on the road … the Gators are now 1-2 against top-five opponents under head coach Todd Golden … UF is 23-64 against top-five opponents historically with a paltry 2-32 mark on the road … Florida trailed for 39:08 of the 40-minute game, never holding a lead or tie after the opening tip … the Gators are now 2-8 when trailing at halftime and 0-10 when trailing with 5 minutes left … Florida is now 1-9 when being outshot from the floor, 3-8 when being outshot from beyond the arc and 4-8 when its bench gets outscored …

sophomore G Kowacie Reeves is now 3/20 FG (.150) and 1/11 3PT (.091) over his last four games as well as 22/81 FG (.272) and 7/47 3PT (.149) since the start of the new year

What it means: The loss was an abject failure for a Florida team that has now seen significant deficits and dropped consecutive road contests to tough opponents rather than build momentum following their upset of No. 2 Tennessee last Wednesday. It was not expected the Gators would beat the Tide — the visitors entered as 10-point underdogs — but trailing by nearly triple that margin after 20 minutes and never coming within 17 points in the second half showed that, even beyond its record, Florida is unlikely to pass the eye test when the selection committee determines at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament. Barring a 6-1 run to end the regular season prior to making some noise in the SEC Tournament, the Gators will likely be on the outside looking in. They are now 2-9 against Quadrant 1 opponents with a 5-8 record on the road.

Beyond that, the winning basketball Florida was playing during its winning streak earlier this month has disappeared. The Gators are not defending the perimeter well, distributing the basketball, scoring on the fastbreak or manufacturing points offensively. The competition level stepping up surely plays a significant role in not being able to impose their will on opponents, but it’s nevertheless a concern that they trailed by double digits for the final 32:17 on Wednesday night.

What’s next? Florida just ended arguably the toughest stretch any team will play this regular season with three top-five opponents (two on the road) plus an away game at Kentucky over the last two weeks. The Gators also played five of their last seven games on the road dating back to Jan. 18.

While Florida will only play four of its last seven games at home, the schedule is markedly easier down the stretch. Five of those seven games are against teams ranked 9-13 in the SEC standings, including two UF has already defeated by an average of 9.0 points (Georgia, LSU). The other opponents are Kentucky in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and Arkansas on the road.

Florida next suits up Saturday when it hosts Vanderbilt for a 3:30 p.m. ET tip in the O’Dome. The game will air live on SEC Network.

One Comment

Join The

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux