Updated: Florida falls at TCU, 55-50

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Florida center Kevarrius Hayes attempts a shot as TCU's JD Miller, left, and Kevin Samuel (21) defend in the first half Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU never trailed after Kouat Noi scored the game’s first seven points. When Florida got even in the second half after a horrendous start and bad shooting day all around, the lanky forward for the Horned Frogs put them ahead to stay.

Noi finished with 22 points, outscoring the Gators all by himself for most of the first half, and TCU held on to win 55-50 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday.

“Being able to win ugly has been something we struggled with in the past, so we’ve won a couple close games, which is huge for us and our program,” said Desmond Bane, whose 17 points included four free throws in the final 22 seconds.

The Frogs (15-4), who scored only 23 points with 12 turnovers after halftime, had their lowest-scoring victory in coach Jamie Dixon’s three seasons. It came three days after what had been the lowest this season, 65-61 over Texas.

“Yeah, it was only 55 of them, so pretty much all (points) were at good times. We didn’t have any to spare,” Dixon said. “We loaded up a bunch early, but it didn’t finish out that way.”

Florida (11-8) started the game 1-of-15 shooting and was down 18-3 more than midway through the first half.

“A lot of TCU D, and lack of poise by us, lack of execution. Played rattled really and dug ourselves a hole, and then played more rattled and the hole got bigger,” UF coach Mike White said. “Very tough start, too hard to overcome on the road in the Big 12.”

KeVaughn Allen, coming off a game when he had eight 3-pointers, finished with 11 points for the Gators.

Florida tied the game for the first time at 34-34 on a 3-pointer by Andrew Nembhard, who then had a bounce pass to Kavarrius Hayes for a layup for a 36-all game. But Florida then went almost five minutes before scoring again.

Noi made a tiebreaking layup and then a 3-pointer from the right corner, at almost the same exact spot from where his cousin, Lat Mayen, then hit a 3.

“The first couple points started the momentum for the whole team, and everyone was looking for each other,” Noi said. “I give credit to my teammates for finding me when I was open.”

Noi outscored the Gators until Jalen Hudson’s 3-pointer with 6:52 left in the first half got the Gators within 20-11. Noi had 11 points then, and Florida didn’t have more until its next basket more than three minutes later.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: This was the Gators’ first loss in four SEC/Big 12 Challenge games with White as their coach. They were back in North Texas, where last March they played in the NCAA Tournament.

TCU: The Frogs, 4-2 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, won their seventh consecutive home game despite shooting only 36 percent (18 of 50) and with only 10 assists.

“It’s been an emphasis all throughout the year that we were going to have to win some games defensively,” Bane said. “You only hope to make every shot, but if your defense is consistent, you’ll be able to win games even if your shot isn’t falling like today.”

OFFENSIVE TURNAROUND

The 50 points and 30.6 field goal shooting (19 of 62) were both season lows for the Gators, three days after they made 18 3-pointers in an 81-72 win over Texas A&M.

“I don’t want to sound like it’s all things we didn’t do,” White said. “TCU’s really good defensively.”

UP NEXT

Florida has the first of two consecutive home games Wednesday night against No. 20 Mississippi, White’s alma mater. It’s the start of four straight games against conference teams currently ranked in the Top 25 for UF.

TCU plays its next two games on the road in Texas, on Monday night at Texas Tech and next Saturday at Baylor.

Notes: The SEC/Big 12 Challenge has been extended for six more seasons, ESPN announced. … UF senior Kevarrius Hayes now has 87 career blocks, passing Joakim Noah for third all time.

TCU 55, FLORIDA 50
FLORIDA (11-8)

K.Johnson 4-9 0-0 9, Hayes 4-6 0-1 8, Locke 2-9 2-2 7, Allen 4-13 1-1 11, A.Nembhard 2-9 0-0 6, Bassett 0-1 0-0 0, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 1-5 0-0 3, Hudson 2-10 1-1 6. Totals 19-62 4-5 50.

TCU (15-4)

Noi 8-17 3-5 22, Miller 1-6 0-0 2, Samuel 1-3 0-0 2, Bane 4-13 8-8 17, Robinson 3-9 1-4 7, Mayen 1-1 0-0 3, Barlow 0-0 0-0 0, R.Nembhard 0-1 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 18-50 14-19 55.

Halftime_TCU 32-20. 3-Point Goals_Florida 8-27 (A.Nembhard 2-4, Allen 2-9, K.Johnson 1-1, Ballard 1-3, Locke 1-5, Hudson 1-5), TCU 5-20 (Noi 3-8, Mayen 1-1, Bane 1-6, Miller 0-2, Robinson 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 26 (K.Johnson 8), TCU 33 (Noi, Samuel, Robinson 6). Assists_Florida 14 (Allen 5), TCU 10 (Robinson 5). Total Fouls_Florida 15, TCU 10.


Up next

Who: No. 20 Ole Miss (14-5, 4-2 SEC) vs. Florida (11-8, 3-3)

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: O’Connell Center

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

46 COMMENTS

    • Missing a power forward hurts every time they play. I wondered if I were the only one thinking the officiating was one-sided. Seemed like our guys were jinxed in this game. A lot of nice shots wouldn’t go down. One looked like the ball went half way through the net and popped back out. Kind of a bad omen. Not a good day on the road for the Gators.

    • Yup…you cautioned the win against a bad Texas A&M team as nothing to really hang our hats on and you were right. You should win holding a team to 55, but we are woeful offensively and it’s 3 on 5 on the offensive end. Unless we shoot lights out, we have no chance. The games will be close though.

      CMW has to get some bigs in the worst way…and work on spacing on the perimeter.

  1. That’s about what I expected. This team is only interesting imo to the extent that they can show improvement over the year. This is not an NCAA tournament team right now, I don’t think they will be when the regular season is over. But they can grow as a team and mature. I’m proud of the way a few of our guys played, just not enough talent on the floor. Sad that this is happening in Year 4. There is no excuse for this.

  2. This is an average team, with no power in the paint whatsoever. If the threes aren’t falling, they can’t score. They play hard, and can be fun to watch when the perimeter shooting is on, but just can’t compete with the power teams. Until they can recruit a couple of top-notch bigs again, there will be quite a few games like this one. But, we will still root for them anyway. Go Gators!

  3. This teams mentality is all over the board. How do you play such an inspired half on Tuesday and come out today and look totally lost. Thankfully our one and done’s are just that…..DONE….Allen, Hayes and Hudson. To the teams credit they did make a game of it in the 2nd half. We need 40 minutes of hell as Coach Richardson use to say! Just as well sit back and accept it for what it is. A team that is very happy playing only when they want to.

  4. We don’t have the talent this year period. CMW has done a bad job evaluating the talent level on the team. Hopefully next class will be better all around or it’s on to the next one…. Everyone I talk to whether a big fan or not says the same thing about our team. They are not very good and what’s wrong with our coach. That’s not a good sign. Either way it’s always Go Gators!

    • I can’t help but think about Donovan’s Year 4: made it to the championship game but gave out in the end to Michigan State. We were all so excited about Donovan as a coach and looking forward to the future. That is not the way anyone feels now about CMW. Of course, Donovan is a hall of fame coach, so its not a fair comparison. BUT to be this bad at this point is inexcusable. He will get his chance to turn it around, and maybe he will. I feel like we are trapped. CMW is not going anywhere, we can’t do anything but wait and see if he can dig us out of the ditch.

      • I agree. Being a long time Gator fan it’s very hard not to be subjective about coaching. I don’t call it spoiled just you usually can tell if a coach has it or not. The ones that do more often than not exceed expectations while the ones that don’t usually have you scratching your head. I really hope that CMW just has a group of inferior players on the team because that’s what they sure look like playing their competition. Next year we have one of our best recruiting classes ever so the team should play much better then what we are seeing. I feel like we just settle for 3’s because the coach thinks that’s all we can do. That was the same BS that our ex football coach CJM was crying to everyone as to why we sucked so bad on offense. He insisted there was no talent and you can only do what the players are capable of. Then CDM comes in with the same players and all of a sudden we have ballers??? Coaching is a HUGE part of any athletic program and I feel like the players aren’t responding to his for whatever reason. I hope I’m wrong but feeling this way about a coach doesn’t usually end well.

        • I concur, JIM. There is something to the subjective analysis thing…sometimes you can tell if a coach has it or not. That is exactly how I felt about CJM (and Muschamp, and the Zooker). That does not mean CMW can’t turn it around, he did get us to the Elite 8 (but with Donovan’s players…almost feels like what Tubby S. did with Petino’s players in 97, minus the national championship part. Smith never reached that level again). At this point I am beginning to settle in with the notion that CMW just doesn’t have it. I really hope I am wrong. I like Coach White a lot.

          Next year will be telling. Hopefully he will have a healthy Gak and Stokes, and Omar Payne will be a nice contributor (and maybe Basset will turn into something). A mature Nemhard, along with Locke and Johnson will provide increased production. Add S. Lewis and T. Mann, and this could be a formidable roster next year. That is a solid 8 man rotation. But I feel like next year he has to deliver, if not, then the writing may be on the wall as they say.

          • I agree, Brian, except in your comparison of CMW to Tubby Smith. Smith won a NC with Pitino’s players who were coming off back-to-back appearances in the NC game, beating Syracuse in ’96 and losing in OT to Arizona in ’97. In contrast, CMW took Donovan’s players to the Elite Eight after a losing record under Donovan the previous year. I agree completely with your last paragraph, though. CMW will have what appears to be a talented team next season, and he needs to have a strong season and a good run in the tournament.

          • I am hoping Omar Payne will help, but he is similar in stature to Bassett…a pretty slender guy. I have seen him play for Osceola and he was always the 3rd or 4th option at best before the xfer to Montverde.

  5. Ultimately, we just don’t have the size or the talent to compete at an elite level. That is a reflection of the coach’s recruiting. Also, I think Nembhard leads the SEC in missed point blank lay ups. How was he ever a five star recruit? Hopefully, his shooting will improve. The rest of the SEC. schedule will be brutal.

    • Grump and RS agree about Nembhard. Although we should cut him some slack since he’s a freshman, he hasn’t improved much, and at times seems to have regressed. I don’t understand his slow stand-up straight posture when dribbling….one can’t have a quick first step that way.

      Must give kudos to Hayes. He plays his heart out on every play and really is a very good, or even great shot blocker. Need another big who can score and bully around the rim and you’ll instantly see a turn around with this team.

  6. Coaching change is painful. Ask a Tennessee fan about it. Every sr on this team was recruited by hall of fame coach Billy Donovan. I will be glad to see the 3 new players next season. And for people that don’t follow basketball recruiting closely….the relationships that get the best players in your class start several years before they sign. This freshman class was really coach White’s first class that he could say he had a fair chance recruiting. As always….Go Gators!!

  7. Hudson was recruited by White. He re-recruited Allen and Hayes. White’s team has played without 6-11 Gorjak Gak, saw 6-9 Chase Johnson go through yet another concussion protocol and then leave the program, lost 6-8 PF Keith Stone for the season, and has 6-8 Isaiah Stojes playing for the first time since he was a high school junior four seasons ago. Yeah, White hasn’t landed a quality big man and the halfcourt he’s running looks nothing at all like the offense he brought from LA Tech. Hopefully this next recruiting class enables him to turn the momentum the other way. Right now this team’s Jekyl and Hyde performances frustrate and mystify. But lack of size in the front court has plenty to do with the losing.

  8. I am wondering why the Gators seldom fast-break in transition. I saw several opportunities on turnovers/steals but White has apparently ordered them to set up the half-court offense, which produced 50 points. Pretty good if that was for the first half. I have given up analyzing. There is something lacking out there, especially with Hudson and Hayes. What has happened to the scoring? Has Hudson just given up or lost his confidence. 2-10 is not going to even get him in a European pro league.

  9. Agreed cattrick. Who would have thought that Hudson would get this cold for so long. Even in single digits, those are points that make the difference in winning a tough road game. Everyone expected Hudson would be contributing.

    I thought the beginning of the second period was just as telling as the first for TCU. They are a good team.

  10. Everybody saw Rupp Arena tonight. What a college environment. Florida’s UAA hasn’t kept up with the best yet we must recruit and play against the best. Obviously the most talented players will go to the best programs. We’re losing strategically. Only the UAA can win at that level. It takes years of planning and fund raising. It’s a cop out when they say we can’t fill our present seating capacity facility. Build it, you’ll get the players and you’ll get the wins, and then, they’ll come. We should have a twenty year plan to replace the Swamp and the O’Connell Center along with a 20 year, five year incremental, funding goals. If we don’t meet the funding goals then construction is moved back until goals are met. When we build, there should be no better facility in the country…seating capacity or quality. The plans should be laid out in our master plan that includes architectural and engineering designs. The coliseum and stadium should be of such quality that we would never consider bulldozing them and they will last a millennium Go Gators!

    • Agree, when you are a talented recruit and you visit Florida, KY and TN, and compare the O Dome to those other two campus facilities, it really isn’t fair or a close comparison. Even after going back-to-back with Billy D., he couldn’t ride that wave into a huge recruiting windfall. Mike White is about as good a hire as Florida could have hoped for, you ain’t gonna get a seasoned/successful coach to come here. This season is lost, but hopefully the recruits coming in, along with what’s returning will get the Gators back into the mix of things.

  11. I am wondering why the Gators seldom fast-break in transition. I saw several opportunities on turnovers/steals but White has apparently ordered them to set up the half-court offense, which produced 50 points. Pretty good if that was for the first half. I have given up analyzing. There is something lacking out there, especially with Hudson and Hayes. What has happened to the scoring? Has Hudson just given up or lost his confidence. 2-10 is not going to even get him in a European pro league. make that a European D league.

  12. I have to agree, the officiating was just so utterly home-town it was ridiculous. One play they allowed the TCU player to travel four steps and lay in a basket for 2 points, as refs probably affected a 12 to 13 point swing in this game with their unbelievable calls yesterday.

    BUT, as close as this game was at the end, it wouldn’t have mattered if this team was simply much better coached.

    Hudson played selfishly and made a LOT of bad shot decisions, and of course, we had practically no inside game or real paint defense or offense.

    Stokes is bust, plain and simple. he’s lazy at practice and usually out of shape, and that;s the answer to all of those asking why he doesn’t play more. We have no real NBA talent on this team and honestly, I don’t think White would know what to do with it if he had.

    No more excuses, these are White’s players and White’s system and it’s progressively gotten worse since the first quarter of last season. Players consistently unfocused, under-developed, playing a system that relies mostly on about 80% perimeter offense and finesse. I said White was a bad hire when we hired him and I still stick to that opinion.

    Four years is enough to see. White is “McElwain-ing” his way along at UF and #1 recruiting class or not next year, AD Scot Striklin needs to pull the plug on Jeremy Foley’s last major coaching choice at UF.

  13. I’m no basketball expert, but looks to me like White has been plagued with a lot of unlucky injuries, especially up front, and his team still has a winning record against a lot of tough competition. The team wasn’t performing so hot when Donovan left for the NBA, and White’s trying to build it back up with some obstacles hampering his efforts. With all the bumps and curves in the road he’s been maneuvering around, perhaps he deserves some credit along with the criticism.

    • I hear you, but next stop for Jay is the league. He is a Northeast guy in a hotbed of talent where he can develop 3 and 4 year guys that translate to the league…can’t see him leaving for UF. Beside Nova…maybe a blue blood program like Kansas, UNC, UK, Duke….

      Even though he is not doing as well…Chaka Smart probably “smarts” that the UF job came open a year too late. I thought he was a shoe-in when if he was available…with his ties to the program.

  14. White should have a better 2019-20 team with Nems back and 2 McDonald’s All Americans coming. He still needs an inside game, both on offense and defense. Hope he finds it quick as in the next 2 years. The one thing you know when hired as a college coach (basketball or football) is that sooner or later you will get fired. White is looking at sooner unless the next 2 seasons get the Gators back to the NCAA. Not saying he is good or bad coach, just saying that’s the way it is in Div. I revenue sports.