The crudely made sign said what everyone has been thinking for several weeks.
In fact, it was so obvious that there wasn’t even a whole lot of artistry put into its creation and it barely made an appearance in the student section as the game started.
But it was there, held by 13 Rowdy Reptiles on 13 pieces of poster board.
The Gator players saw it.
He saw it
Of course, as we have discovered, not always. Sometimes shooters fade into the flow of a game like a guilty party. Sometimes, they just don’t feel like shooting no matter how many people are yelling at them to …
“Hopefully, that’s all it took,” said Florida’s Egor Koulechov. “”Shooters shoot. We’ve waited on it for awhile.”
The shooter on a team rich with shooters was KeVaughn Allen, the preseason All-SEC pick who had started conference play like he was clinically shy when it came time to let it fly.
Instead it was more like, “Naw, I’m good.”
In his five SEC games, Allen had only attempted 30 shots and the ones he had taken were more likely to bang off the rim as swish through the nets. He was averaging 6.6 points a game in the conference and you could almost see him leaking confidence.
His teammates and coaches kept on him. Shooters shoot. You’re a shooter.
“We tried to get him to shoot,” said UF’s Jalen Hudson.
On Wednesday night, in an important game (aren’t they all in this league this year?), the shooter shot.
When he nailed his first, the students went nuts. When he made his second, they knew this might be the night Allen came out of his shooting shell.
By halftime, he had 20 points and Florida had a 15-point lead.
By the end of the game, he had 28 points — including a big 3 in the second half after Arkansas had climbed within nine points — on 8-of-12 from the field.
There was also this — after going four consecutive games without attempting one single solitary free throw, Florida’s second best shooter from the line went 6-for-6 there.
“I think that first three I hit kind of got me going. It put me in good rhythm and my teammates did a good job of finding me,” said the silent but deadly Allen. “I just wanted to stay aggressive and keep shooting not matter what happens. … It felt good to get the offense going a little bit.”
On a cold night, he was hotter than habanero and ghost pepper salsa.
Maybe it was the 13 letters printed in black.
“I figured it was (for him),” Allen said. “It was funny to me.”
Well, maybe it was playing against the team from the state where he grew up that still can’t believe he got away.
“Sometimes when you’re playing the home team from your home state, you have a little bit more focus,” said Arkansas coach Mike Anderson.
Or maybe he finally heard the noise.
“I’ve been listening,” Allen said. “They’ve been telling me forever just to shoot, shoot. Whether I miss, just keep shooting it.”
He picked a fine time to have a big night.
“He got his groove back,” Hudson said.
Allen got plenty of support from Hudson, who might have played his best game as a Gator with 21 points and nine rebounds, all on the defensive end.
But this game was about seeing KeVaughn Allen get untracked before his slump (3-of-14 from 3 in his last four games) went any deeper into the season.
“He needed it,” said Florida coach Mike White, “and we needed it.”
There is still a ton of basketball to be played this season and the conference season is only a third competed.
So we still have to see whether Allen’s resurgence was a sign of things to come — making Florida as deadly an offensive team as there is in the SEC — or a one-time, it was Arkansas, it was the O-Dome, he had a good night, kind of thing.
“I’m so happy for him,” White said. “He was great, wasn’t he? Wow, did he play a great game.”
Can they take the signage to Rupp?
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.