Florida vs. Maryland score, takeaways: Gators drop third of last four games in another uneven effort

By Adam Silverstein
December 12, 2021
Florida vs. Maryland score, takeaways: Gators drop third of last four games in another uneven effort

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

A neutral-site game in Brooklyn, New York, at the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational represented a huge opportunity for No. 20 Florida Gators basketball. Consider it another opportunity lost for Florida, which continued to squander its early season momentum in a 70-68 loss to the Maryland Terrapins on Sunday night at Barclays Center.

The Gators have now lost three of their last four games after a 7-0 start to the season, and while this loss to the Terps was not disastrous on its own, it represents a continued slide for a team that was ranked as high as 14th in the nation just two weeks ago. Whether that’s Florida unable to handle its own success or simply this team starting the season by playing above its talent level is a question that must be answered.

Let’s take a look at what happened Sunday night in a difficult loss for Florida basketball.

It was over when … senior point guard Tyree Appleby’s step-back 3-pointer failed to find the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded, sending Maryland to victory. It was a highly questionable call by head coach Mike White with 6 seconds remaining, UF down just two and both teams in the double bonus, but Appleby had been nails from downtown over the course of the game.

The Terps took a game-high seven-point lead with 6:26 to play when Appleby responded with consecutive triple to cut the Gators’ deficit to one. Another Appleby trey with 1:14 to play gave Florida its first lead of the second half, but UF coughed it up just 16 seconds later. The teams traded baskets inside the final minute before Appleby’s miss sealed the Gators’ defeat.

First half focus: Florida took 10 more shots than Maryland in the opening 20 minutes and needed every one of them as it was far less efficient shooting. Still, the Gators and Terrapins were tied at 33 entering the locker rooms in large part due to UF hitting 5 of 7 attempts from beyond the arc down the stretch. Junior forward CJ Felder stood out by hitting 3 of 4 triples for nine points as there were five ties and seven lead changes in the first half.

Exceptional efforts: Appleby scored a team-high 15 points, hitting 5 of 8 attempts from beyond the arc. Felder kept Florida in the game over the first 20 minutes but didn’t attempt a shot in the second half, finishing with nine points. Redshirt senior guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. matched Appleby’s 15 points, but he only hit 3 of 12 shots, making 7 of 8 free throws to reach his total. Fleming achieved a double-double with 11 rebounds, also dishing four assists.

Odds and ends: Florida fell to 2-2 all-time against Maryland … the Gators are 25-37 all-time against the Big Ten, 3-5 under White … though UF entered with horrific 3-point shooting this season — especially over its last two games — it went 11 of 27 (.407) from long range … however, Florida was terrible inside the arc, making just 11 of 31 baskets … … there were six ties and 11 lead changes … Maryland dominated Florida 28-18 in paint scoring, though UF had a 35-30 rebounding edge (15-8 offensive) … the Gators are now 21-53 when scoring fewer than 70 points and 34-51 when allowing 70+ points under White

What it means: This was a big missed opportunity for a get-right game on a big stage. Though Maryland has struggled this season, it’s faced its share of adversity and still remains respected nationally. The Gators were so inefficient offensively, it didn’t matter that they got nine extra shots. The Terps were simply more consistent over the game’s 40 minutes as UF continues to look for answers as to why it has fallen off so significantly since its hot start to the season.

What’s next? Florida will play a second straight neutral-site game when it faces South Florida on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. in Sunrise, Florida. The Gators have historically been dominant in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and will be heavily favored in this penultimate game of their nonconference schedule.

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