Fastbreak: Florida falls to Tennessee, dropping third straight with season on the brink

By Adam Silverstein
February 21, 2018
Fastbreak: Florida falls to Tennessee, dropping third straight with season on the brink

Image Credit: ESPN Images

The 2017-18 season has fallen off a cliff for Florida Gators basketball (17-11, 8-7 SEC), which dropped its third straight game Wednesday night on the road against the No. 19 Tennessee Volunteers (20-7, 10-5 SEC). The Vols, which had dropped two of their last three, handed the Gators their fifth loss in seven games with a 62-57 decision in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Let’s take a look at UF’s latest loss in Fastbreak:

It was over when … Senior point guard Chris Chiozza missed a free throw with 25 seconds remaining that would have cut Florida’s deficit to two. The free throw was part of an And1 opportunity that came one possession after Chiozza drove the length of the court and missed an off-balance layup that had no chance of going in. Tennessee followed the latter possession with consecutive free throws to go up five and ice the game.

Not another collapse: At least the Gators didn’t cough up a double-digit second-half deficit. This time, Florida trailed for 38:37 of the 40-minute game, only leading for a total of 35 seconds. UF scored just 18 points in the first half, trailing by nine at the break after going 7-of-26 from the field (.269) and 1/10 (.100) from downtown. The Gators found themselves down just one late in the second half but were unable to stop the Vols down the stretch as UT made 50 percent of its shots in the latter half and drained 9-of-11 free throws.

Exceptional effort: Chiozza put together the strongest game, but that’s not saying much. He scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting with nine assists and six rebounds but also turned the ball over three times.

Odds and ends: Redshirt junior G Jalen Hudson, Florida’s leading scorer, has completely fallen off down the stretch of this season; he went 4 of 11 on Wednesday and is shooting just 26 of 75 (.347) over the last seven games (UF is 2-5) … junior G KeVaughn Allen‘s horrendous season continued as he was held scoreless on three attempts for the first time since Jan. 12, 2016 … the Gators hist just 9-of-16 free throws (.563) and 6-of-24 threes (.250) … surprisingly, Florida beat Tennessee on the boards (38-36), with second-chance points (16-4), in bench scoring (19-8) and fastbreak scoring (13-5) … UF is on its second three-game losing streak of the season

What it means: Florida is now squarely on the bubble for the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The Gators likely needed to win two of their final four games to make it into the 68-team field, but now they must win two of their last three, a difficult task considering their upcoming opponents. This team is clearly struggling in a number of areas from coaching to consistency to defensive effort. The answers are not as simple as fans make them out to be, and head coach Mike White is not on the hot seat, though he could be pressed to make some drastic changes to his staff this offseason.

Up next: UF must win two of its last three games to have a legitimate shot at the NCAA Tournament. It will get a massive test on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. when it hosts No. 12 Auburn. Florida then concludes the regular season next week with a road game at Alabama (which won by 18 in Gainesville back on Feb. 3) and at home against Kentucky (which the Gators beat by two in Rupp Arena on Jan. 20).


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