Florida vs. Michigan score: Gators cold in second half, end season in NCAA Tournament

By Adam Silverstein
March 23, 2019
Florida vs. Michigan score: Gators cold in second half, end season in NCAA Tournament

Image Credit: UAA Communications

In a microcosm of the 2018-19 season, it was once again not pretty in the second half for the (10) Florida Gators, but this time it resulted in a thorough defeat as the (2) Michigan Wolverines dominated the final 20 minutes to pick up a 64-49 win and eliminate the underdogs from the 2019 NCAA Tournament by holding UF to a season-low in points scored. Florida (20-16) and Michigan (30-6) went toe-to-toe in a fast-paced and exciting first half until the Gators saw the wheels fall off late, ending their season with a whimper in their 10th game against a top 12-ranked opponent this campaign.

Let’s take a look at what went down as UF was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament.

It was over when … Freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard committed two bone-headed turnovers as part of a 6-0 run for Michigan that put it up 13 on Florida with 4:42 to play. The Gators were never able to fight back from that significant of a deficit, though they did on numerous occasions early in the game.

An early 11-0 run by Michigan put it ahead 15-6, but Florida responded with a 9-1 run and extended 17-6 scoring stretch to take a 23-21 lead midway through the first half. Though UF started 5 of 9 from three and hit 6 of 12 triples with 18 points from downtown in the first half, it could not keep up with UM, which scored 18 points inside the arc and led by four at the break.

The Wolverines then opened the second half on an 11-0 run (14-0 spanning halftime) to take a 15-point lead. The Gators did not score for the first three minutes off the half but put together a 9-0 response stretch that dropped their deficit to six points with 14:20 left. They would never get closer.

Unable to take advantage of an ice cold shooting stretch for Michigan (1 of 12), Florida could not put the ball in the hoop due to a mix of turnovers and missed shots. Its first and only free throws came 24:56 into the game, and it went 11 minutes scoring just five points as the favorites took a game-high 16-point lead with under 2 minutes to play.

Exceptional efforts: None. Other than senior center Kevarrius Hayes (eight points, seven rebounds), the Gators did not have a single player who did something right without doing something else quite wrong. Redshirt senior guard Jalen Hudson led the way with 11 points but went 4 of 15 from the floor and 3 of 10 from long range.

Odds and ends: Florida hit 6 of 12 threes in the first half, 3 of 14 in the second half … the Gators shot .286 in the second half (5 of 14 from inside the arc) and .345 for the game, falling to 5-11 on the season when shooting below .400 … UF fouled UM on three attempts from long range … Michigan dominated in the paint both outscoring (34-16) and outrebounding (42-29) Florida … the Gators led for just 1:20, all of it in the first half …

In his final game, senior G KeVaughn Allen went scoreless for 22 minutes, missing all four of his shots, before making his final three attempts to end the game with eight points in 30 minutes … Nembhard had eight assists and four costly turnovers … freshmen Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson combined for 15 points on 6 of 18 shooting …

Florida is now 44-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, 5-3 under head coach Mike White … the Gators made their seventh straight appearance in the Round of 32 or beyond (2011-14, 2017-19) but fell to 11-6 in the second round … Florida finishes the season 4-13 in games against Quadrant 1 opponents with two wins over ranked teams (2-10) … UF is 12-24 against AP Top 25 teams and 3-9 against top 10 teams under White … the Gators faced five top 10 opponents over their last seven games (1-4) and 10 top 12-ranked opponents this season …

Hayes finished second in program history in blocks (214) … Allen finished sixth in program history in scoring (1,723), third in three-point attempts (743) and sixth in makes (250) after making his 133rd career start (second-most)

What it means: Florida deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament, but anyone thinking it was going to beat a top 10 team in the second round was fooling themselves. This Gators team has been flawed all season, and those flaws were glaring on Saturday night, primarily with Allen and Hudson — the team’s expected leaders — continuing to play wildly inconsistent basketball. Despite its solid defensive efforts, UF did not have the depth nor shooting accuracy to compete with a team of UM’s caliber, and that is exactly what we saw in the final score.

While White received a lot of grief for Florida’s play this season — some of it deserved — the Gators were simply out-manned most of the year with its star players posting efforts below their ceilings for the majority of the team’s games and expected contributors injured early in the season. It will be interesting to see how Florida looks in 2018-19 with an exceedingly young roster led by a couple freshmen who saw extensive minutes as true freshmen.

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