Florida basketball score: Gators stifle West Virginia as offensive struggles continue

By Adam Silverstein
December 5, 2018
Florida basketball score: Gators stifle West Virginia as offensive struggles continue

Image Credit: UAA Communications

The Florida Gators bounced back in the win column against a major-conference opponent on Tuesday night, but that is one of few positive takeaways out of Madison Square Garden as Florida (5-3) pulled off a 66-56 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers (5-3) in the 2018 Jimmy V. Classic. The final score is no indication of the game itself as both teams struggled mightily to put the ball in the hoop in a dreadful game.

Let’s take a look at what went down in the Gators’ fifth win of the season.

It was over when … Florida sunk some free throws down the stretch. Though the Gators held a 16-point lead with 5:14 left in the game, it allowed the Mountaineers to chip away at it over the final few minutes. West Virginia had only scored 37 points through the first 35 minutes of the game but posted 19 over the final five to get within single-digit striking distance late. The Gators played lock-down defense all game, forcing 21 turnovers and scoring 22 points off those giveaways, but they were unable to take true advantage of their extra possessions due to poor shooting in all phases of the game. Florida went 16-of-48 from the floor (.333), 6-of-21 from three (.286) and 28-of-46 from the line (.609), a mark that sat around 50 percent most of the game and vastly improved late as UF drained a number of consecutive free throws in the final few minutes.

Exceptional efforts: Senior guard KeVaughn Allen was the only player in the game to score more than 11 points. Allen posted 19 points on 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc with 6-of-9 made free throws. While he did commit a team-high four turnovers, he also had three assists and only one foul in the game. Simply put, Allen loves MSG.

Notable absence: While he was dressed and did play, redshirt senior G Jalen Hudson did not see any action in the second half and only played six minutes in the entire game. Hudson went 0 for 4 (all threes) and missed both of his free throws. He is now 4-for-24 from the field (.167), 2-for-15 from three (.133) and 0-for-3 from the stripe (.000) over the last five games, playing less than 10 minutes in two of those contests — both wins. Something is very wrong with Hudson, who is shooting 13 percent worse overall, 16 percent worse from beyond the arc and scoring eight fewer points per game than a year ago.

Odds and ends: Freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard did not shoot well but dropped six dimes in the game and hit 4-of-6 free throws … besides Allen and freshman forward Keyontae Johnson (4-for-5 FG), the rest of the Gators shot 7-for-30 from the field (.233) … Florida led for 38:02 of the 40-minute game … WVU took 16 more shots than UF but only hit three more baskets; the Gators took 26 more free throws than the Mountaineers

What it means: Florida won a game it likely would have lost against a number of other teams. That said, it should not be understated that West Virginia has one of the best offenses in the nation and UF stifled it for much of the game, regardless of how it struggled to score on its own. The win is a confidence-builder for the Gators in a big venue, which comes with some good timing considering …

Up next: Florida will host No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday in a national game that will air live at noon ET on CBS. The Spartans are the second ranked team the Gators will face this season; they previously fell 81-60 at Florida State to open the season.


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