Florida can’t hold off No. 24 Mississippi State, 71-68

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Florida guard Jalen Hudson (3) shoots a reverse layup as Mississippi State forward Abdul Ado (24) defends in the first half Tuesday in Starkville, Miss. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

STARKVILLE, Miss. — In need of a key bucket, No. 24 Mississippi State went to old reliable — Quinndary Weatherspoon in crunch time.

Weatherspoon converted a three-point play with 3.4 seconds left to lift the Bulldogs over Florida 71-68 on Tuesday night.

It was the sixth time in his career that Weatherspoon sank the winning shot. He drove the lane and was fouled by Kevarrius Hayes while dropping in the winning layup. Weatherspoon finished with nine points.

“We were supposed to get the ball in, and then me and Lamar (Peters) go back and forth with it,” Weatherspoon said. “Lamar broke off the play and got out of the way, and that left me an open lane. I thought it went good, and it gets our confidence back to get back on the right track.”

Peters scored all 16 of his points in the first half, and Tyson Carter added 12 for Mississippi State (13-3, 1-2 Southeastern Conference).

“That was obviously a huge win over a very good team that is very well-coached,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “I was very proud of our guys, and I thought we kept our composure so much better in this game than we did last Saturday (against Ole Miss). And Q (Weatherspoon) just seems to have that rare, rare ability to make that play.”

KeVaughn Allen had 17 points for Florida (9-7, 1-3), and Andrew Nembhard had 13 points. Noah Locke had 12 points for the Gators, who had won eight straight against Mississippi State.

Five of Florida’s seven losses have come by seven points or less and six have been one-possession games inside the final two minutes. UF had the lead late in all three SEC defeats.

Mississippi State shot 53.1 percent from the floor and made 10 of 17 beyond the arc. Florida shot 42.4 percent from the field and made just 10 of 31 shots from deep.

“Our tempo press was effective for 39 and a half minutes,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Q made a good play, and we didn’t keep him in front. We rotated a little bit late and he finished and made a big play.”

The Bulldogs led 36-34 at halftime and the teams played close throughout the second half. Allen’s 3-pointer with 2:55 remaining put the Gators ahead 66-61, but Aric Holman answered with a 3 on the next possession, and Weatherspoon tied it at 66 with a layup with 1:27 left.

Holman and Locke exchanged baskets in the final 24 seconds before Weatherspoon won it with his three-point play.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators have dropped three of their first four SEC games. The road doesn’t get easier with a road trip to Georgia this weekend.

Mississippi State: After losing two closes games to open SEC play, the Bulldogs finally closed out a game thanks to Weatherspoon’s heroics.

UP NEXT

Florida travels to Georgia on Saturday.

Mississippi State travels to Vanderbilt on Saturday.

 

No. 24 MISSISSIPPI ST. 71, FLORIDA 68
FLORIDA (9-7, 1-3 SEC)

Hayes 2-3 1-2 5, Hudson 1-8 0-0 3, Nembhard 6-14 0-0 13, Locke 4-9 3-4 12, Allen 5-12 4-4 17, Stone 0-2 0-0 0, Bassett 2-2 0-0 4, K.Johnson 4-6 0-0 11, Ballard 1-3 0-0 3, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 8-10 68.

MISSISSIPPI ST. (13-3, 1-2)

Ado 2-2 0-0 4, N.Weatherspoon 4-7 0-0 9, Q.Weatherspoon 4-8 1-1 9, Peters 5-12 2-2 16, Woodard 1-4 1-2 3, Perry 2-3 4-4 8, Holman 4-6 1-2 10, Carter 4-7 0-0 12. Totals 26-49 9-11 71.

Halftime_Mississippi St. 36-34. 3-Point Goals_Florida 10-31 (K.Johnson 3-4, Allen 3-7, Ballard 1-2, Locke 1-4, Hudson 1-5, Nembhard 1-8, Stone 0-1), Mississippi St. 10-18 (Carter 4-6, Peters 4-8, Holman 1-1, N.Weatherspoon 1-2, Woodard 0-1). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 28 (Hayes 8), Mississippi St. 27 (N.Weatherspoon, Q.Weatherspoon, Ado 5). Assists_Florida 18 (Nembhard 8), Mississippi St. 19 (Peters 6). Total Fouls_Florida 12, Mississippi St. 12. Technicals_Perry.

45 COMMENTS

  1. This was the best Gators’ SEC loss yet, if that is such a thing. The Gators drove to the rack with authority finally, and had some great shooting by K. Allen, yet again. The Gators tonight actually outscored Miss. State in the paint 26-24. The Gators just have to learn how to close out games and win the close ones. And in my opinion, Hayes shoulda’ fouled the streaking Miss. State player at the end of the game in the paint, instead of trying to take a charge. GO GATORS! Beat UGA!

    • You’re right, gi, it was a poor decision by Hayes to try to draw a charge and risk giving Weatherspoon the and-1, which he did. He would’ve been better off trying to block the shot and fouling hard if necessary to prevent the basket. Locke needed to stay in front of him better, too. As well as Allen played, he couldn’t make a play in crunch time, and with that, the Gators let a chance for a road win against a ranked team slip out of their grasp.

    • Hey RS. There ARE some positives. We played better in the paint. It was an away game at a tough venue and we could have won. And though it looks bad, and may end up bad, Mike White thus far has had results. I know it’s difficult not to be down on the Gators, but I will agree with Swampy that doom and gloom aren’t selling possible new recruits, who all have access to social media and read these sites. Who is a better coaching candidate than White for the Gators should we jettison him? The greats are where they are and won’t leave their current teams to come to UF. Those that may chose Florida probably don’t have the success White has had thus far. I’m not dogging ya RS, but it does appear White has a nice class ready to come be Gators next year. I’m fully in White’s corner and he for sure deserves another year (at least).

  2. Just need someone to truly take charge at the end of games. Allen finally seems to be starting to take on that role, which is what I think everyone was hoping he’d do. Hopefully the team starts to follow his lead and they can close out some games.

  3. Coach MW is playing with 3 freshman and they need to close out games better.
    Great effort but still a loss. I hope Coach MW keeps this team together for the whole season and doesn’t lose them to discouraging losses which they need to overcome. They have been close on most ranked teams we’ve played

  4. We played good enough to win again but that is just what we are, just good not great and better teams with leadership will pull out the win in the end. We are the only team in the SEC to not have a 20 point scorer in any game this season. I am convinced that we are lacking that go to shooter. Allen and Hudson have not been nearly as good as what I was expecting this year. They are point blank the reason we are not winning this year. No other reason besides their poor play, as CMW I’m sure was expecting them to be the leaders on the team. We play some great D but offense is just not their with this group.

  5. Well…I suppose this means our football team is about to get really good again. The elite football programs rarely have elite basketball programs. So, this could bode well on the gridiron. I consider 2006-2007 a happy aberration (one I would of course welcome again!).

    I agree, Pooky, I hope White can keep the team together. Next year will be better. But…I am increasingly growing suspicious of White’s ability to lead this program back to the Final Four, much less a national championship. This is Year 4, and here we are. How is this going to change in the future?

    • Brian, the way it will change, if it does, is through getting and developing good players. Nobody wins without them. The encouraging thing is that CMW is now recruiting Top 10 classes and competing with the blue bloods for 5 star recruits. With another 5 star PG, a 5 star wingman, and a 4 star C in the next class, he should have most, if not all, of the players he needs. If Coach can’t get that team to an Elite Eight or Final Four within a couple of seasons, then maybe those who are already calling for his firing will be proven right. Until then, we’ll have to be patient and buckle up for a bumpy ride this season as the current freshman, hopefully, begin to develop.

        • Dan, Omar Payne, the 4 star center, is listed at 6’9″-215. He probably needs a little more muscle, but he’s not that much lighter than Hayes, who’s four years older. According to Swampy, who seems to know much more about recruiting than I do, Payne is as athletic as Hayes, but also has the offensive skills that Hayes lacks. It’s probably too much to ask that he would provide a stellar inside game immediately, but hopefully, Bassett will continue to develop, and Stokes and Gak will get healthy and be able to contribute also.

          Tre Mann is a 6’3″ PG, so we’re getting much better height at that position. Scottie Lewis, I believe is 6’5″, so he’ll be a taller SG or a bit undersized small forward. These two are the 5 stars.

          • I think you are spot on, Joe. It comes down to getting good players and developing them. There is some light at the end of the tunnel on this front, but not much. Payne will hopefully be a nice boost (eventually) and your right, a healthy Stokes and Gak would make all the difference. The problem though: all three of them need to be significant contributors and all three of them need to stay healthy. Even if that is the case, are they really a formidable trio to be able to make a deep run? Possibly, but I have difficulty envisioning this scenario. It almost has to be a perfect storm for this to work out. The problem, as I understand it, is that White just does not recruit high caliber inside players. He does great with guards, but not so much with the big fellas. If this pattern continues, I just don’t think he can right the ship. I hope I am wrong, but the trajectory is not a positive one, especially considering this is still a problem, and it is Year 4. Donovan’s players are almost all gone (ahem, Mr. Hayes). It is 100% on White now.

            On the other hand, if White can create such a dynamic backcourt and can augment this with one or two serviceable post players, then maybe he can do it. This would be changing the formula that worked under Donovan, but it might work. I just don’t see it though. Teams that make runs and win championships always dominate on the inside. Always.

          • I agree, Brian. There has to be some sort of inside scoring to make a significant tournament run. I don’t think it necessarily has to be post-up scoring, but if not, there has to be lay-ups in transition or drives to the basket for lay-ups or assists to teammates for easy baskets. I do think guard oriented teams can succeed, but there has to be some inside presence, preferably providing some scoring, but at the very least defensively. I don’t know if White can consistently recruit top-notch big men, but I hope the signing of Payne is an indication that he can and will.

  6. MW imo needs to find a competent big man who can score, we all know this, hopefully MW knows this. Hopefully he can recruit guys with passion for the game. So often our guys play out of control, chunk n clunks, and we almost have to with no front court scoring. Hopefully recruit guys who do dribble and drive can score or dish off. We have no guys who can finish. This season is over. I seriously doubt we will make it to NIT. Thats how bad. Time for MW to prep for next year and look to recruit big man or look for a big man (who can score) to transfer.

    • DanF – to your point I wanted a kid named Trey Porter who was a grad transfer from Old Dominion but we did not have room for him last summer… he is a starter for 17-1 Nevada. 6’10” 230. I have a feeling we will have some spots open up after this season (not just from the seniors).

      • TA, are you thinking maybe Okauru, over a lack of playing time, or maybe Stokes wanting a fresh start like Johnson? A transfer does seem to be the best path to immediate help. White brought in Justin Leon when he took the job, and Leon became a key contributor on the Elite Eight team. Same result with Barry and Egor.

  7. We all know that Florida needs a big man who can play offense, but not really sure if that will help since MW’s coaching is strictly limited to shooting 3’s. Playing his college playing days through UF. It is time for MW to go back to Louisiana and coach 2nd tier teams. Winning coaches know how to recruit elite players who can consistently score, develop players to their potential and beyond, effectively play all five players on a team at both ends of the court, and know how to close out a game. MW and his weak staff do not do any of these especially close out a win. Many games where UF had the lead deep into the second half only to loose. With the exception of the freshmen, MW and staff have the same core players who most have not improved and some who have gotten worse. UF will have a challenge to have a winning season, and even if they do, it’s time to say goodbye to MW and his staff.

    • Well, when the Gators had Egbunu, with Hayes as a decent back-up, and front court help from Devin Robinson and Justin Leon, White lead them to the Elite Eight. I don’t think he has an aversion to an inside game, I think he just didn’t foresee the extent of the effect of injuries to Johnson, Stokes, and Gak. As mentioned by some above, I think a grad transfer for a big man would be the best way to get immediate help inside next season.

      • Joe, agree whole heartedly that we need a grad transfer to fill the hole in 5 spot. Even if Gak gets well, he is not skilled or strong enough to handle more than 4-5 minutes a game to give whoever is there a rest. Thanks for the info on the guys coming in next year. Payne sounds like a probable upgrade but he will need some more pounds and a lot of muscle to handle the SEC frontcourts that he will face. Speaking of Justin Leon, I think we probably appreciate what he brought to the toughness level when he played now even more so now than when he was here. He was fearless and relentless, qualities we aren’t seeing in the current team.

  8. ok so the good news is that we are going inside more both with passing and dribble penetration with kick outs. But isn’t the question begged : Why did we stop in the second half???? Where was Basset and/ or Ballard underneath like in the first half?
    I have been critical of CMW for two primary reasons: failure to even try to go inside with passing and/or dribble penetration with kick outs and player development. I am seeing improvement in the first and it is time to ramp up the latter. Williams of TENN was a 3 star….now he is one of the best in the country. Stone was a 4 star and has regressed…as has Hudson, Hayes has only slightly improved his ball skills and still struggles with fundamentals. Who knows whats up with GAk .So Coach , can you “coach’em up” or not???? This season is probably lost as being considered successful unless some miracle happens . . Why wait on the miracle…..CMW has recruited and has available 4 sophomores, Bassett, Ballard, Johnson, and Okaura…not to mention freshman Stokes… essentially on the bench.. Its time to see what they can do. With the so called super class coming in, CMW and the kids need to know where they stand and what they can do when given the chance. Bassett and Ballard have the wingspan and have shown some excellent moves….Johnson is a beast and should be banging away inside too. Its time to sit Hudson and Stone and and go with the freshmen and sophomores ….their your guys Coach. Lets see what you’ve got.

  9. As has been pointed out, an important aspect of any coach is player development. I just don’t see that happening so far. This is MW’s third year, you would think we would see some improvement with stone, hayes, Hudson, Allen. These are key players. In fact I’d go as far as to say Stone and Hudson have regressed.
    In football, we have seen what good coaching can do in player development. Just not seeing it. I’m not proposing MW to be fired, I believe he deserves at least a few more years to get all his players in, but there is lots of room for improvement.

    • Just my opinion but I think Hudson would rather be anywhere than playing college basketball right now – probably should have went overseas. Allen is coming along but he is a two guard… maybe having to run point last year slowed him down and/or had an effect on his shot… but (this seems obvious) when Allen is making shots he is developing and when he is not it is Coach White’s fault. 🙂 Joking aside Allen’s ceiling is when shots do not fall. He is not a PG, he is not a swing man… he is a two guard… so not sure what he was going to develop into. Coach White cannot shoot it for him.

      • Good points, TA. The perception of developing and/or regressing seems to be heavily dependent upon shooting. Hudson can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn this season, so he is seen as regressing. He certainly has in that respect, unless last season’s hot shooting was just a one-time pleasant surprise. I will say, though, that in Hudson’s case, he hasn’t learned how to be a contributor when his shot isn’t falling. That’s why his minutes are dwindling. These have been some close, hard fought games that the Gators just haven’t found a way to win. If the Gators were 4-0 in the SEC having won the 3 games by the same slim margin by which they were lost, the tone of the conversation on this board would be significantly different. I do realize, though, that it’s a big “IF”.

        • Wow, really captain obvious, the tone of the readers posts would be different if the Gators were winning, really??? I’d be richer if I made more money. If my aunt had testicles she’d be my uncle. If a frog could fly he wouldn’t bust his rear every time he hit the ground. Such thought provoking statements made on this site everyday, simply amazing.

          • Well, kev, I suppose that was obviously obvious. Merely trying to point out that the Gators aren’t that far from being a good team, so since you seem to prefer the tired cliche’s, how about they’re “so close, and yet so far”? I’ll try to be more thought provoking if you’ll work on some original material.

          • Well, you may be proven right, kevin, but another couple of made shots and a couple of stops could have them at 4-0 in conference with wins over two ranked teams. With those wins they’d be 12-4 and would have to be considered “good”. Since they were close to getting those wins, I say they’re close to being good. Close isn’t good enough, but we’ll find out just how close they are soon enough.

          • Yep, I’m one of “those” people. I never said the Gators were, good, just that they’re not that far from good. Yes, they’re mediocre, but the results, nice wins against WVA, Butler, and Ark, and close losses to two ranked teams support my opinion. So, no, you’re not “right on the mark as we speak “, when you say the Gators are “light years from being a good team”. If they end up with a losing record, you’ll be proven right based on the entire season. So, I’m sticking with “you may be proven right”.

  10. For the sake of argument, lets say Stone, Hudson, Allen, Hayes haven’t regressed, the question is, have they progressed any? Out of all of those, Hayes has played with tons of energy, keeping ball alive, but scoring, free throws, not so much. Care to guess Stones boxscores vs SEC teams? Hudson, nuff said, and Allen, samo streaky shooter.

  11. has anyone really looked at the coming schedule???
    With the unexpected teams Ole Miss and LSU have put together we are in danger of losing another 9-10 games. Who really believes we are going to beat Auburn, Kentucky, or Alabama either??. Is this negative…..you bet and it really hurts and is out of character for a die-hard Gator. But it relates to two previous post…… one…..the rest of the league,primarily due to new coaches, has progressed while it appears we have digressed mainly as a result of lack of player improvement, lack of a quality post player and poorly coached game fundamentals. Second, this year has to be about testing the CMW recruited youth with lots of minutes. CMW is going to get a few more years to show he can coach better recruits and he needs to see NOW what the players he already has …and not playing enough…can do. Sit Hudson and Stone……now!! Continue to play the freshmen and play the sophs more!!

  12. The truth is that this team is just not that good. They have no big man. They have no inside scoring. They are very inconsistent shooting with their outside shooting and scoring. They do not have a go to scorer that can score a basket when they need it. The players who were looked to score and lead the team are no-shows. Unfortunately, this year we just don’t have the players to make a run. Next year looks to be different.

  13. Since it’s Friday morning, and there isn’t another Gator Basketball story yet. Perhaps they’re scared of the ”backlash”, but I will chime in again here. This Gator team has to PLAY FOR 40 MINUTES! PERIOD! They have to put their foot on the other team’s neck, like Coach Spurrier taught us Gators in the 90’s, and don’t let up ’till the final buzzer. And for the future, well I think Dontay Bassett could be decent to special player, it’s up to him. Gak, God bless, him will only be a shot blocker and a 10-15 minute guy, I hope I am wrong. And I hope Gak learns how to time rebounds and throws them BACK DOWN LIKE SHAQ! He’s big enough, but is his heart BIG ENOUGH!?!? And Stokes, damn man, lean up, and become Da’ Meat Hook! You could be pushing guys around in the paint, and dominating the boards ‘IF’ you wanted it bad enough. And that is all the Gators are missing right now, REAL ”WANT TO!” And oh, just 1 more ”Grad transfer” like, a Canyon Barry or a Koulechov for next year.
    But aside from some bone-headed plays in the final minutes of the last few games, these Gators coulda’ beat the 3rd ranked team, U.T. and beat Miss. State, the 24th ranked team at the time. So, ”Come on Gators, get up…” and GET BUSY! Lastly, if y’all don’t beat UGA in Athens this Saturday on national T.V for CBS’s 12 o’clock game, then the wheels could fall off this whole thing. The start of Feb. for U.F. has KENTUCKY, AUBURN, and the Gator Chomping, Tennessee Vols in Knoxville (back to back to back.)
    So, damn Gators, let’s get busy!