Florida vs. UConn score, takeaways: Gators outclassed by No. 5 Huskies in O’Dome rout

By OnlyGators.com Staff
December 7, 2022
Florida vs. UConn score, takeaways: Gators outclassed by No. 5 Huskies in O’Dome rout

Image Credit: UAA

The new-look Florida Gators under head coach Todd Golden faltered in another opportunity against a notable opponent with the No. 5 UConn Huskies coming into the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and picking up a sleepy 75-54 victory. Florida only led for 46 seconds early in the first half and trailed UConn by double digits for the vast majority of the game.

The Gators had two 7-minute stretches without making a field goal — one in each half — as they struggled massively with shot selection and shot making. Florida again proved to have numerous holes defensively, and it never seemed throughout the contest like it would have a legitimate opportunity to bounce back after finding itself in an early hole.

Simply put, UConn was the better team in every conceivable way. A handful of UF players who see significant minutes went 0 for 20 from the field as a group. Redshirt senior forward Colin Castleton struggled for the sixth straight game. And there are far more questions than answers for this program now 10 games into Year 1 under Golden.

Let’s take a look at what went wrong for the Gators on Wednesday night in the O’Dome.

It was over when … UConn guard Tristen Newton drained a 3-pointer to put the visitors up 19 points with 7:19 to play. Florida never got its deficit below 10 points in the second half and went a stretch of 7:05 without making a single basket. The Huskies led by as many as 23 before the Gators made two free throws in the final seconds.

First half focus: Florida struggled massively from the opening tip, going without a field goal for a 6:51 stretch as UConn used a 9-0 run to open a 10-point lead. UF shot just 28.6% in the period while hitting only 5 of 11 free throws. UConn had a 26-15 edge off the glass and an 18-10 advantage in paint scoring. It did not help matters that Castleton went 1 of 9 from the field in the opening period.

Exceptional efforts: Sophomore F Alex Fudge and freshman G Riley Kugel each posted team-highs of 13 points, combining to go 3 of 3 from long range. The rest of the Gators went 1 of 12 from downtown.

Castleton bounced back to shoot 3 of 5 in the second half, totaling 12 points and eight rebounds for the game, but it was his sixth straight contest in which he struggled. After averaging 25.3 points and 8.8 boards through the first four games, Castleton is averaging 10.0 and 6.7 over his last six.

What happened? UF’s entire veteran backcourt imploded at the same time. Redshirt seniors Kyle Lofton and Myreon Jones, junior Trey Bonham and sophomore Will Richard combined to go 0 of 20 from the floor and 0 of 8 from 3-point range with only Bonham scoring four points off free throws. Again, the foursome combined to score four points and miss 20 baskets in 74 minutes of court time. Jones is now 5 of 22 from the field this season, somehow shooting even worse than he did a year ago.

Odds and ends: Florida fell to 1-5 all-time against UConn with an 0-2 record in the O’Dome … the Gators have not defeated the Huskies since their first meeting back in 1994 … UF is now 22-23 all-time against Big East programs, 0-2 under Golden … Florida dropped to 48-130 against top 10 teams … the Gators were dominated inside 42-28 on the board and 40-22 in paint scoring … UF’s 16 made field goals were its fewest in a game since Nov. 10, 2019

What it means: The Gators are simply nowhere near able to compete with a team the caliber of the Huskies, and given their performance against West Virginia in late November, it’s a wonder if they can even be competitive against middle-of-the-road power conference programs. While Florida does have a severe lack of depth, the transfers acquired by Golden are simply not performing adequately to be making up such a significant portion of the roster.

The problems are multiple. The Gators take bad shots, don’t move the ball well, struggle defending the perimeter and show a lack of passion to do what’s necessary to rebound and clean up inside. Yes, Florida did match UConn for a majority of the game, but it became readily apparent that the Gators’ early deficit was impossible for them to overcome, and the Huskies pulled away when needed late to leave little doubt in the result.

What’s next? Florida gets a bounce-back opportunity when it meets Ohio in a neutral-site game this coming Wednesday in Tampa. That is the Gators’ only game of the week, which will give them ample opportunity to prepare for Oklahoma the following Tuesday at the 2022 Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte.

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