Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators embarrassed in epic blowout loss to Texas Southern

By Adam Silverstein
December 6, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators embarrassed in epic blowout loss to Texas Southern
Basketball

Image Credit: Courtney Culbreath, UAA Communications

No. 20 Florida Gators basketball suffered one of the worst losses in program history Monday night, getting blown out 69-54 by the Texas Southern Tigers at home inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. After opening the season with six straight wins, the Gators lost their second consecutive game, this time a head-scratcher to a previously winless 0-7 Tigers team listed 240th in KenPom.com’s rankings ahead of tipoff.

Florida, a 23.5-point favorite, dropped its first game in history to a team from the SWAC, falling to 26-1 all-time against the conference. Texas Southern led for the final 29:31 of the game, building a 10-point lead at halftime and extending it midway through the second half as UF was completely unable to score or stop the visitors in the paint.

After being pushed as high as No. 14 in the AP Top 25 last week, the Gators fell six spots earlier Monday. Following this loss, Florida will be bounced completely from the rankings as head coach Mike White’s team will have erased all of the positive momentum it had garnered to start the season.

Let’s just cut to the chase. Here’s what went down in one of the most embarrassing defeats in program history.

It was over when … Texas Southern used a 7-0 run to lead by 19 points with 10:17 to play. Florida tried to cut into it, but TSU regained that advantage a few minutes later, led by 20 with 4 minutes left and cruised to the finish.

First half focus: There was nothing redeeming about the opening 20 minutes for the Gators, which got obliterated down low and trailed 35-25 at the break. Texas Southern outscored Florida 22-10 in the paint and dominated the boards with a 22-11 edge as UF went 2 of 11 from 3-point range and hit just 3 of 7 free throws. The Gators were scoreless the final 4:18 of the period as they allowed the Tigers to get whatever they wanted on backdoor cuts.

Exceptional efforts What went wrong: Literally everything, but it started with Florida’s inability to match up in the paint, in large part due to effort. The Gators were absolutely rolled down low, outscored 42-26 in the paint and outrebounded 46-23 over 40 minutes. Florida could not stop Texas Southern’s backdoor cuts, and when it did, second chances and offensive rebounds gave the visitors extra chances. TSU also converted its shots at a rate more than 15% better than it had on average this season, which certainly helped.

Not only that, though, the Gators’ 3-point shooting woes continued. UF went 5 of 24 from long range just days after going 4 of 24 against Oklahoma, combining to shoot just 19% from downtown over the last two games. Florida made no concerted effort to move the ball offensively and failed to create open shots. Perhaps even more maddening was the Gators’ inability to score freebies. Florida hit a paltry 7 of 16 free throws with every single player who stepped to the line missing at least one gimmie. That’s effort, care, attitude and attention as much as it is skill.

Odds and ends: Florida lost its first game to the SWAC in program history, falling to 26-1 … the Gators are now 4-21 all-time under White when scoring fewer than 60 points … UF was outscored in each half … redshirt senior guard Brandon McKissic hit four of the team’s five 3-pointers, going 4 of 6 from long range with a team-high 15 points

What it means: Florida proved Monday that it cannot be trusted — not in any regular-season game and especially not in a potential postseason appearance. It’s one thing to suffer a close upset loss to a bad team. It’s quite another to get absolutely trounced at home as a ranked host. That is a failure of leadership. White deserved credit for how the Gators played to open this season, but there is literally nothing he can say to excuse this loss. It’s a microcosm of his career at UF: Even when the team looks like it has turned a corner, utter disaster is right around the next one. Unless Florida rebounds in a massive way over the remainder of this season, this embarrassment is going to cost it a ton of national respect.

What’s next: There’s a quick turnaround for UF, which will host North Florida on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip on SEC Network. Florida will then travel to face Maryland in the Basketball hall of Fame Invitational at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday to complete a long three-game week.

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