Florida drops third straight, upset by Loyola-Chicago

Florida guard Egor Koulechov goes up for a shot Wednesday against Loyola-Chicago at the O'Connell Center. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

So much for the feel-good 5-0 start. So much for being billed as one of the best shooting teams in the country.

No. 5 Florida continued its tailspin Wednesday with a numbing 65-59 loss to Loyola-Chicago, a 16-point underdog, that left third-year coach Mike White and his players searching for answers. The Gators (5-3) dropped their third straight game, their longest losing streak since losing four in a row in White’s first season in 2015-16. It also was their second consecutive home loss.

The losing streak could extend to four if the Gators can’t get their act together before facing No. 17 Cincinnati on Saturday at the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J. (6 p.m., ESPN2).

“This is the lowest we can get,” Florida junior guard Jalen Hudson said. “I don’t think we can get any lower than this. I’m sure we’re out of the rankings; none of that even matters. But we’re as low as we can get. We’ve got to completely change everything we’re doing and go back to the basics. … We’ve got to have a change of heart, a change of everything. It’s not working.”

Florida let Loyola-Chicago get too comfortable early and paid for it late. The Ramblers made 10 of their first 13 shots and 5 of their first 6 3-point attempts to build a 13-point first-half lead and gain belief they could pull off the upset.

“I’ve done a very poor job with this team defensively,” White said. “We are not a good defensive team. We’re not very tough, and that starts with me.”

The Gators shot just 36.9 percent from the field, 2 of 19 from 3-point range and dished just seven assists. No Florida player reached double figures. Point guard Chris Chiozza had 9 points and 5 assists, while Hudson finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds.

Still, Florida had a chance to tie the game coming out of a timeout down 61-59 with 35.6 seconds left, but junior guard KeVaughn Allen missed a driving bank shot. Center Kevarrius Hayes appeared to tie the score on a putback tip but was called for basket interference. From there, Loyola-Chicago made four straight free throws down the stretch to close out the game.

Aundrae Jackson led Loyola-Chicago (9-1) with 23 points, while center Cameron Krutwig burned the Gators inside with 14 points and 8 rebounds. The Ramblers overcame losing starting point guard Clayton Custer to an ankle injury late in the first half.

“Just unbelievably proud of my guys for the effort they gave and battling through adversity when Clayton went out,” Loyola-Chicago coach Porter Moser said. “Proud of the culture, the type of guys that are here, happy for that kind of effort.”

White made a few starting lineup changes — going Hayes and forward Keith Stone up front, with Chiozza, Egor Koulechov and freshman Deaundrae Ballard in the backcourt. Allen and Hudson came off the bench, with Ballard making his first career start.

“I was looking for guys who were going to play hard,” White said. “We can not shoot our way into being an elite team, it’s not going to happen. Hopefully our guys know why. You have to learn to win games when you are not shooting at a high level.”

The lineup changes didn’t provide the intended spark. Stone had an early putback basket inside, but Florida left Jackson too open on the perimeter. Jackson made the Gators pay, hitting a pair of early 3-pointers to help ULC jump to an early 8-4.

Loyola-Chicago continued its hot shooting start, building a 27-14 lead on a Donte Ingram 3-pointer. Florida spent the rest of the half playing uphill. Chiozza capped an 8-0 run with UF’s lone 3-pointer of the half, cutting Loyola’s lead to 27-22. After ULC went back up 32-22 on a Donte Ingram 3-pointer, the Gators answered with a 9-0 run which included a Koulechov three-point play, Stone putback basket and Allen steal and transition basket. But Loyola-Chicago guard Marques Townes was able to hit a running basket in transition at the first-half buzzer, putting the Ramblers up 34-31 at halftime.

Florida scored 15 points off turnovers in the first half, which help offset a 1-of-8 start from 3-point range.

UF took its only lead, 39-38, early in the second half on a Hayes steal and breakaway dunk off an in-bounds pass. But Loyola-Chicago quickly took back control of the game, going up 42-39 on a pair of inside baskets by Cameron Krutwig and Jackson, which prompted White to call a timeout.

“We’re not a very accountable team right now,” White said. “We’re a team that has been told how good they are, it’s been at an all-time high right now in the past 10 days, so hopefully we’ve been humbled a little bit. We’ve got guys who have gotten a lot of accolades, scored a lot of points that are struggling to put it in the basket right now and their other deficiencies are glaring, none of which are very surprising at all to my staff.”

LOYOLA OF CHICAGO 65, No. 5 FLORIDA 59

LOYOLA OF CHICAGO (9-1)

Jackson 10-12 0-0 23, Krutwig 6-10 2-2 14, Custer 2-5 0-0 4, Townes 1-4 0-0 2, Ingram 4-10 0-0 11, Williamson 1-3 0-0 2, Skokna 0-0 0-0 0, Satterwhite 0-1 4-4 4, Avery 2-5 1-3 5. Totals 26-50 7-9 65.

FLORIDA (5-3)

Stone 4-7 0-0 8, Hayes 2-6 1-2 5, Koulechov 3-13 1-1 7, Chiozza 3-7 2-2 9, Ballard 3-6 1-2 7, Gak 3-4 0-0 6, Hudson 3-11 3-5 9, Allen 3-11 1-2 8, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-65 9-14 59.

Halftime_Loyola of Chicago 34-31. 3-Point Goals_Loyola of Chicago 6-12 (Jackson 3-3, Ingram 3-7, Custer 0-1, Avery 0-1), Florida 2-19 (Chiozza 1-3, Allen 1-5, Stone 0-1, Ballard 0-2, Koulechov 0-3, Hudson 0-5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Loyola of Chicago 29 (Krutwig, Ingram 8), Florida 32 (Koulechov 9). Assists_Loyola of Chicago 14 (Krutwig, Satterwhite, Custer 3), Florida 7 (Chiozza 4). Total Fouls_Loyola of Chicago 12, Florida 14.

Kevin Brockway :

View Comments (48)

  • Well one issue is they keep shooting too many 3s when those shots either aren't falling, or well defended. I think they are 7 of 44 (+\-) from the 3 point line the last two games...to keep shooting that shot when it's obviously not falling is insane. At least drive the basket and try to draw contact for a foul. Lack of D is an entirely different rant. White will figure it out though.

  • Not quite sure what the deal is. Defensively they are getting beat. Given the fact the Gators lack an inside game their only option is to run a fast break offense and stop relying on 3 pointers. Instead they allow their opponents to dictate the pace and settle into a half court offense where they're forced to shoot from the perimeter. And when you're shooting poorly beyond the arc as Florida has the last two games it only results in losses.

  • too many ball hogs on this team need to pass more and bigs have gotten much worse Gak and Hayes played great last year and now have regressed big time!

    • When did Gak play great last year? When he made a couple dunks in the tourney games? Hayes absolutely needs to play better but that's on him. Coach White is putting him in the positions to succeed and he's softer than Charmin' when it comes time to fight for a rebound inside.

  • This is a very talented team and you do not win or lose championships now. Koulechov, Allen, and Hudson need to start shooting better and the team clearly needs Egbunu in the middle to be a stopper down low and grab defensive rebounds. This team will be there in March.

  • Wow, Mike White loses two games, only one of which is a pretty bad loss, and a supposed "GatorLover" is ready to throw him under the bus? Some Gator fan you are. This team needed these last 2 losses. It needed to learn early that it is fully capable of going ice cold from the 3 point line, and when it does, it needs to find another way to win. Far, far, far better time to learn it now vs FSU and Loyola-Chicago then to learn it as a 3 or 4 seed vs a stingy mid-major in round 1. So the key is how we respond. Someone, anyone, needs to step up as a vocal leader on the floor. That's who Mike White was in college, and he's frustrated that he doesn't have that leader on his team right now. Allen and Chiozza are often praised for their "quiet leadership" and that's fine, but sometimes you need an upperclassman, not a coach, to yell at a guy like Ballard for taking a bad shot, or Okauru for not coming hard off a screen. Unfortunately I don't think Egbunu will bring that when he comes back either. Sounds like Hudson is frustrated as heck, so maybe he's the guy to do it. Not sure, but that's what this team needs more than anything right now.

  • This Gator basketball team is terrible. If Hudson thinks this is the 'lowest it can get', he's in for a surprise. They've got nothing.

  • Lot of me first transfers brought in like Egor and Hudson.

    They are very talented but care more about getting their shots then helping the team win.
    You really need to build your team with recruits not 1 year transfers who have no bye in
    to the team first mentality.

    Right now it seems Cheese and Allan have to force shots since they know Egor and Hudson are going to jack up shots if they don't take them.

    Really need to focus on better team ball on both ends or coach should play some of these talented recruits who have more size and will hustle on both ends of the floor.

  • Actually, the decline began prior to the Duke loss. Gators played horribly at home against a weak New Hampshire team, barely pulling out the win. Then, blew a big lead against Duke.
    If defense is the problem and it is one of them, look at some film and see if any other team in America has their bigs switching on man defense. The answer is no, other teams' bigs don't come out, they stay inside and other teams' guards and wings, fight through screens. White teaches switches on everything, which leaves smaller guards against bigs and gets them posted inside. Happened repeatedly last year too.
    Stone should never be out on the floor guarding someone but he is. Coaches like Krueger, Rupp, Wooden, Sloan, and others would cringe to see the defensive principles of White. And, no, recruiting will never get better until he gets someone who can recruit FL and stops people like Kevin Knox from leaving the state. Or, Joel Berry Jr. or the big from Bartow who went to UNC. Or, Bacon from Lakeland who Leonard corralled. White has no assistants with FL ties either. Rumor is that they don't even try to recruit FL kids, the just concede that they can't get them. Why? Best university in the state and one of highest ranked academically in the nation, and we can't get kids to come for free? Come on. We cannot continue to let FSU control Tampa and Polk County in hoops as they have in football.
    As for leadership, the leader last year was Kasey Hill and some of you didn't appreciate him. All Defense SEC and he would get the ball inside.

  • Kasey Hill Sucked, Goes down as one of the biggest turn over machines in college basketball history, how many times did he drive the lane and flail up his arms attempting to make a layup, only to go off his knee or out of bounds, him and Ervin Walker with his 30 foot bombs at the end of the shot clock, still give me nightmares. These teams for some reason loose confidence as a unit, and it just snowballs, plus no beef down deep, watched Villanova this past week, they beat us by 30.

  • Gators problem? Playing 'hood' street ball. They started playing 'hood' ball in the second half against Duke and blew a 17 point lead. One pass shots, uncontrolled drives, wild "hey look at me" throw up prayer shots. Throw in invisible big men and you've got the Gators. Won't win until they get back to a disciplined style of play.