Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators embarrassed at Texas A&M as comeback falls short

By Adam Silverstein
February 15, 2022
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators embarrassed at Texas A&M as comeback falls short
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball once again played down to its competition, but this time, it was unable to complete a second-half comeback in a horrendous 56-55 loss on the road to the Texas A&M Aggies. Despite entering as the far more accomplished team this season, Florida allowed Texas A&M to snap its eight-game losing streak in which it had fallen to teams by an average of 8.1 points per contest.

The Gators looked disinterested the entire first half, and it seemed like no matter what head coach Mike White said on the sideline, they never adjusted over the opening 20 minutes. Florida trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, scoring just six points through the first 13+ minutes of the game.

Though it flashed more consistent offense in the second half, UF was a victim of its play all season as it took too many poor, low-percentage shots and failed to connect on open looks both beyond the arc and in the paint. This game, perhaps more than any in this campaign, was an indictment of White’s coaching given the team plays the same way and makes the same mistakes in nearly every contest.

The defeat was simply unacceptable given the team’s health and level of play, and it also gives the Gators consecutive losses with a good chance to dropthree straight games by the end of the weekend. Let’s take a look at what went down Tuesday night with Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV made three free throws with 19.5 seconds remaining after being unnecessarily fouled by Florida senior G Phlandrous Fleming Jr. on a jacked-up 3-pointer with the visitors leading by two and looking for a 2-for-1 opportunity at the end of the game. The Aggies earned that extra shot when Gators senior G Myreon Jones fell to the ground with a hard-fought rebound only for the hosts to tie him up with 32.6 seconds left and benefit from the possession arrow.

With its back against the wall, Florida had chipped away at a significant deficit with an extended 16-2 run bolstered by a triple from Jones. That pushed the visitors into the lead for the first time in 28:54 of game clock with 5:03 remaining. The teams battled back and forth before UF gave up its advantage late at the line.

First half focus: The teams started a combined 0 of 12 from 3-point range after the opening whistle until the Aggies drained one as part of a 15-0 run that gave them a 19-6 lead on the Gators with 7 minutes until the break. Florida missed 10 straight treys and went without scoring over a 7:22 stretch during the period. UF did end the opening 20 minutes on a 14-6 scamper to cut its deficit to seven points, but it committed 10 turnovers and saw three players combine to go 0 for 13.

Exceptional efforts: Though he was quite inefficient in the first half, senior forward Colin Castleton came through late with a double-double as he posted 15 points and 15 rebounds. In doing so, he became just the fourth Florida player with multiple 15-15 games in the same season since 1996 (Udonis Haslem, Al Horford, Marreese Speights). Jones went 3 of 9 from downtown with 10 points but failed to make key shots down the stretch.

Odds and ends: Florida fell to 9-5 all-time against Texas A&M with a 3-4 mark in College Station and a 4-3 record under White … the Gators lost for the first time this season when allowing fewer than 60 points (7-1) and just the fourth time in such a scenario under White (45-4) … Florida fell to 0-5 this season when scoring fewer than 60 points, 4-26 overall under White …

Florida shot 28.8% from the floor and 23.3% from downtown, taking more triples (30) than doubles (20) … Fleming (2/11), senior point guard Tyree Appleby (1/8) and freshman G Kowacie Reeves (0/6) combined to go 3 of 25 from the floor; the rest of the team went 14 of 34

What it means: The Gators are now off the NCAA Tournament bubble after suffering one of their worst losses of the season. Florida has fallen below .500 (6-7) in SEC play and just lost to a team that was among the league’s worst while entering the contest on an eight-game losing streak. Worst of all, there’s no legitimate reason or excuse for the loss. UF entered the game healthy with Appleby starting and playing the entire contest despite his thigh injury over the weekend.

This failure should serve as an indictment of White’s coaching and an inflection point for his tenure leading Gators basketball. No one who has watched Florida consistently make the same mistakes all season can still believe White is the right leader for this program, but even if one did hold that opinion, the team’s play in a cannot-lose game was a paradigm of what’s wrong with the organization. This was not a game UF should have dropped under any circumstances, and yet, it not only lost but was clawing back from a significant deficit over most of the contest.

What’s next? Florida will try to regroup over the rest of the week before it hosts No. 2 Auburn on Saturday in one of its toughest tests of the season. The Tigers will be the sixth AP Top 25 opponent for the Gators during SEC play, and UF lost this matchup 85-73 back on Jan. 8. Florida is 1-9 against AP Top 25 teams this season and 1-7 against top five teams since the start of White’s tenure.

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