Florida vs. UConn score, takeaways: No. 15 Gators fail late with two starters out

By Adam Silverstein
November 17, 2019
Florida vs. UConn score, takeaways: No. 15 Gators fail late with two starters out
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Another great opportunity in nonconference play, another loss for the No. 15 Florida Gators (2-2), which are now 0-2 against major conference opponents this season after falling 62-59 to the UConn Huskies in Storrs, Connecticut. The Gators never led in the second half against the Huskies, keeping the game close in the final minutes despite being without starters — one to fouls and one to injury.

Ranked No. 6 at the start of the season, Florida will likely fall out of the top 25 polls on Monday as it has struggled in three of four games this season and dropped both contests they played against major competition. What went down on Sunday afternoon? Do you really want to know? OK, let’s take a look at how the Gators continued their slow start to the season with our Fastbreak takeaways.

It was over when … while trailing by three, sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard missed a short two-point jumper with 10 seconds remaining and sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson — despite grabbing the offensive rebound beyond the arc — inexplicably hesitated and dribbled inside only to turn the ball over as the buzzer sounded. On the prior possession, down one with 27 seconds remaining, Nembhard missed another jumper. Florida chipped away at a large UConn lead to trail 54-53 with 3:25 to play. It matched the hosts shot for shot and free throw for free throw down the stretch but could never get over the hump with two late gimmies by the Huskies providing the three-point edge that was too much for the Gators to overcome.

Exceptional efforts: Graduate transfer F Kerry Blackshear Jr. was once again the straw that stirred the drink for the Gators, scoring a game-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds. Unfortunately, Blackshear found himself in foul trouble midway through the second half, and after being pulled for two minutes, fouled out one minute later with 4:36 left. He scored more than half of the team’s first 29 points, matching his teammates’ makes from the field and beyond the arc. Once Blackshear fouled out, Nembhard stepped up, but his inefficiency resulted in numerous empty possessions. He did chip away for 14 points but hit just 4-of-14 shots and went 1-for-4 from long range.

Important injury: While watching his teammates rebound the ball in the second half, freshman guard Tre Mann took an elbow to the face and laid on the hardwood in pain. It is not yet known whether Mann suffered a concussion, but he did not return to the game.

Odds and ends: Florida led for much of the first half but went scoreless the final 3:23 by missing seven straight shots; it also had 10 turnovers and 10 fouls in the first period … Johnson’s inability to shoot late hurt even more considering he was 4-for-5 with eight points and seven boards … guards sophomore Noah Locke and freshman Scottie Lewis combined to score 14 points on 4-of-15 shooting … UConn had 13 points off 13 UF turnovers, but the Gators actually dominated paint scoring 30-22 … the Huskies now lead the all-time series 4-1

What it means: If you have not already guessed it, this is not a good Florida basketball team. It may be later in the season, but right now it is a disjointed mash-up of young players, inexperienced leaders and others going through what appears to be sophomore slumps. Blackshear is a clear bright spot as one of the best players in the nation, but head coach Mike White has a lot of questions to answer about this team going forward, including why it appears to be so offensively inept.

What’s next? Florida will compete in the Charleston Classic next week with three games from Thursday-Sunday. It will first face Saint Joseph’s on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2). It will then play either Miami or Missouri State in the second game Friday afternoon before facing one of four teams (UConn a potential opponent) on Sunday.

3 Comments

  1. JOEL ROTH says:

    This team is a great disappointment. Other than Blackshear they are no consistent scoring. Our PG is abysmal he never pushes the ball. Our outside shooters can’t hit a shot. Everyone stands around and when they do get an open shot they hesitate. Blackshear cannot carry the load alone. At least 2 other players need to step up and be aggressive and score. No defense

  2. Harry says:

    We generated a great deal of hype based on recruitment, however game time coaching is also a important factor to consider. We captured lightening in bottle when we were a non factor in basketball by letting Billy Donovan grow into the job. After establishing ourselves as more than just a football school with back to back national Championships, should we not have hired an established coach instead of trying to capture lightening in a bottle again.

    Coach White has a long way to go when it comes to coaching prowess, so we should not be only making excuses of injured players, slumping sophomores and inexperienced freshman. Billy was willing to hire an older experienced coach for defenses strategy, we have a very young coaching staff that may relate to the players but obviously in not translating into consistent play.

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