Season slipping away for Gators: No. 10 LSU 79, Florida 78, OT

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Florida senior guard Jalen Hudson (3) slips and tries to pass the ball as he falls on the final play of overtime Wednesday as the Gators lost 79-78 to LSU at the O'Connell Center. The Gators squandered the final possession with a chance to take the lead with 7.8 seconds on the clock. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

On a Senior Night when Florida needed to be overflowing with a sense of urgency, two of the Gator seniors had it coming out of their ears.

Unfortunately, with the game on the line, the ball ended up in the hands of the third one.

KeVaughn Allen passed up a 3-point shot with seconds left in overtime and instead drove to the basket without getting a shot off. As a result, Florida lost 79-78 in overtime to No. 10 LSU on a night that could have been a huge one for an NCAA bubble team.

“Crushing,” Florida coach Mike White said Wednesday. “Just crushing. Golden opportunity. To not get a shot off on the last possession is just disheartening.”

Earlier in this season, Allen scored 21 points in the second half and overtime in a win at LSU. In his final home game as a Gator, he didn’t shoot after a 1-for-6 first half, instead acquiescing to fellow senior Jalen Hudson.

Another disappearing act, this one at a really bad time.

“It’s the same thing for a long time,” White said.

Florida actually had three chances to take the lead in the final 90 seconds. The first possessions ended after a missed short jumper by Keyontae Johnson. The second was a drive by Hudson that was blocked and appeared to be goaltending.

“It was a controversial no-call,” Hudson said.

The third and final possession couldn’t have gone much worse from point guard Andrew Nembhard walking the ball up the floor with the fans screaming at him to hurry to Hudson (after a timeout) falling down trying to drive to Allen not getting the shot off.

“I thought I had more time than I did,” Allen said, “but obviously I didn’t.”

LSU (25-5, 15-2 SEC) remained tied with Tennessee at the top of the SEC with one game to play. Florida missed another chance to pad its resume, but fell to 17-13 and 9-8 in the league.

If the Gators don’t make the NCAA Tournament, it will be their record at home that will cost them dearly. Florida finished with a 4-5 record in SEC games in Exactech Arena.

“I wanted to get out of here with a win,” said Hudson.

He did about everything he could, scoring a season-high 33 points. Senior Kevarrius Hayes had 15 rebounds for Florida.

“Jalen was really good,” said White. “(Kevarrius) is a beast. I love that kid.”

Florida had a chance to win the game in regulation after Hudson hit a rattling 3 from the corner with 6.2 seconds to play. But LSU’s Tremont Waters, who had a team-high 19 points for LSU, sped down the court past Nembhard for an easy layup to force overtime, the seventh OT of the year for the Tigers.

“I don’t think one man can stay in front of me,” Waters said.

Florida fell behind by five early in the overtime, but battled back to have a chance to win.

Instead, the Gators lost for the second straight time, both at home, and now go to No. 6 Kentucky to finish the regular season.

“It’s just a tough loss,” Hudson said.

The senior scored 16 straight UF points during one stretch of the second half, as Florida rallied from an 11-point first half deficit to take an eight-point second-half lead. But as has been so often the case this year, the Gators couldn’t hold it.

Johnson scored 15 points for the Gators and Noah Locke had 10. Emmitt Williams had a double-double for LSU with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

“Our guys made plays when we needed to,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “It’s been our story all year.”

Locke did set the Florida freshman record for made 3s in a season with 75, breaking Anthony Roberson’s 16-year old mark.

Next up: Florida travels to No. 6 Kentucky to face the 25-5 Wildcats to close the regular season. The game is Saturday at 2 p.m. on CBS.

No. 10 LSU 79, FLORIDA 78, OT
LSU (25-5)

Reid 4-9 1-2 9, Bigby-Williams 2-6 0-0 4, Mays 3-11 4-5 11, Smart 6-15 0-0 15, Taylor 2-5 2-3 6, Williams 5-8 3-4 13, Days 1-2 0-0 2, Waters 8-16 1-2 19, Graves 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-72 11-16 79.

FLORIDA (17-13)

Johnson 6-9 1-3 15, Hayes 2-7 4-8 8, Allen 1-6 2-2 4, Hudson 11-20 7-8 33, Nembhard 2-4 0-0 5, Bassett 1-3 1-2 3, Stokes 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0, Locke 3-6 2-2 10, Okauru 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 17-25 78.

Halftime_LSU 34-31. End Of Regulation_Tied 72. 3-Point Goals_LSU 6-20 (Smart 3-7, Waters 2-4, Mays 1-6, Taylor 0-1, Days 0-1, Bigby-Williams 0-1), Florida 9-25 (Hudson 4-9, Locke 2-4, Johnson 2-4, Nembhard 1-2, Bassett 0-1, Ballard 0-2, Allen 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_LSU 41 (Williams 14), Florida 33 (Hayes 15). Assists_LSU 10 (Waters 6), Florida 10 (Nembhard 4). Total Fouls_LSU 22, Florida 16.

55 COMMENTS

  1. Good game back and forth. Felt great for Hudson. CMW still needs to call timeouts when the other team is going on a run. Allen played like garbage but that’s how the season has gone. When he’s on everyone else is off and when everyone else is on he’s no where to be found. I still can’t believe we let their PG run the floor for a layup to tie the game, at least make him earn them at the stripe. Either way it was a good game and we’ll make the tournament. I just don’t know how far we’ll go maybe a few rounds that’s respectable for how our season has gone. UK is going to be a bad match up for us and playing there just makes it almost impossible. GO GATORS!

  2. You look at the last two games for K. Allen. A chance to make a huge statement and instead lays two giant goose eggs. Looking at his face after the game, he had this could care less look on his face. Either he is tired of basketball or he made some money on these last 2 games. That is not the play of a team leader. Bench him for UK Coach White. I know I will get some nasty comments about this post but fire away. Whatever I will still pull for the Gators. K Allen will probably prove me wrong with a good game against the Cats….but I doubt it!

    • Allen always looks like he doesn’t care. Even when he’s balling he has such a blank expression on his face. I think that’s what CMW was talking about earlier in the season. He was disappointed with leadership from him and how he doesn’t show the fire that is needed to be a leader. To me he had a lost look on his face tonight and might even play down when he’s not the go to scorer.

      • Everyone better play their butt off each and every night if they want to compete with the best. Not saying Allen doesn’t play hard just not up to his potential when he’s not feeling it on the court. To be great in basketball you have to be the go to guy on the floor. CMW has been reiterating that all season about our team they play great some games and disappear in others. Don’t get me wrong Allen has won us more than a few games but he has also not helped in a few that we could have used a few of his Money shots. The same could be said about Hudson in the beginning of the season and how we were missing his contributions. Now he’s balling again and Allen has took a step back. We need Allen, Hudson and Hayes to play like they are capable of or we struggle.

        • I think part of Allen’s problem is that he’s never figured out a way to play well with Hudson. His best games this season have come when Hudson was struggling. Whenever Hudson has played well, it seems that Allen hasn’t been able to play a complementary role and has just shrunk into the background. There may be a few games when both have played well, but none stick out in my memory.

  3. Another very disappointing loss of a game that could have and should have been won. The end of regulation was terrible. No defense at all and they let their best ball handler go coast to coast to the rim unstopped in 6 seconds. Then they have the ball for the last play in overtime to win the game and they do not even get a shot off. Pathetic.

      • Let me ask you this Jim. Do you think while recruiting we look or should look for the leadership trait? I don’t know if I’ve ever considered that. I would think our recruiters are looking for talent, pure and simple, and it just happened that there are no natural born leaders on this group.

  4. Tough loss. Hated that we loss but I am proud of our team; especially our seniors. How did LSU get all those terrific players. They are loaded. Too many Florida athletes are going out of State. And worst, they’re going to our rivals. Seems like many of these kids coming along don’t have a sense of State pride. We need to turn that around. Strong for Ole Florida! Go Gators!

  5. I’m so sick of listening to all the “experts” tell us what a great coach Mike White is! He has no out of bounds play ever…I get he had to replace Billy, but he is way overrated…

    the season should have been about the seniors, but in the end, our best players were freshmen…

    Your one job as HC is to lead and find a leader…he lacks both

    • I completely disagree with CMW not having out of bounds plays. He draws up plays that get looks and points all the time. I’d ask you to roll back the tape on Donovan. His teams often struggled to simply get the ball in bounds from the baseline. There are things CMW could improve on, but he is trying to score with his out of bounds plays and not just throw it over the top.

        • I wasn’t comparing the two coaches pedigrees. I was challenging the assertion that CMW doesn’t try to score from out of bounds plays. That’s simply not true. CMW runs sets to either get something at the rim or the short corner. Donovan is the most important coach in the history of UF sports, and that’s coming from a a huge Spurrier fan (like we all are). So, I wasn’t comparing the two. I was reminding the reader Billy D often just tried to get the ball in bounds. And yes, we would be fortunate if CMW reaches Donovan’s level. Thank you Captain Obvious.

  6. Don’t know if anyone else noticed this but with 2:38 left in the first half we played Hayes and Bassett – two bigs at the same time and outscored LSU 4-0. Small sample size but it clearly helped us and we never went back to it. I’m not saying this would have won the game for us by going with two bigs more often but with how stagnant our offense gets with guys just standing around playing two big guys creates more rebounds, draws defenders into the paint, and an inside out game which we desperately need but it’s too late now! Frustrating team to watch! We’re just not good enough to be honest!

    • Agree. LSU had 17 offensive rebounds, which was the big difference I am not sure why White did not put Bassett back in the game with Hayes. Stokes is a huge liability on defense. Teams have learned to attack him.
      The refs blew the goal tending call at the end of the game. Hudson played a great game. One of the best games that a Gator player played in years. Allen is one of the most inconsistent players in Gator history. At times he looks like an all SEC first team player and other times does not look like he belongs on the court. I would have rather had Locke in the game on the last play as he is a much more consistent shooter than Allen. The Georgia loss hurts the Gators NCAA chances. Very little chance they beat Kentucky on the road. Need to win two tournament games to get a bid.

      • Allen is inconsistent. He’s basically a spot up shooter who needs a big man in the middle to draw in the defense so he can shoot jumpers like in his sophomore year. How many times do Nembhard, Allen, and Locke drive into the paint and be 5-6′ from the basket and stop. You are not suppose to do this ( pick up your dribble), either shot it or keep dribbling. How this fundamental thing is not being coached out of them I don’t understand. And Hayes flips the ball with his wrist around the basket like he’s rolling dice. Again, in 4 years this doesn’t appear to be coached granted his natural ability limits him but in 4 years it’s still the same. A lot of us are upset because we lost and we should be!

    • Actually not scoring at the end is about lack of playmakers. We had exactly one player last night that wanted to take a last shot. When he slipped down, our chance was gone. I for one will be glad when Allen has moved on. Great guy, but way too uneven in production. Go Gators

    • Good point. A team is always a reflection of its coach, and this team is absolutely the embodiment of White’s personality. Notice his reactions to losses are always passive comments like “It was disappointing” or ‘Disheartening.”

      What I never hear him say is any variation of , “I need to to a better job of _____.” Since he perceives these loses as just random “disappointing” events rather opportunities for him and his team to learn and improve, they will just keep happening.

      • Love your stuff, Jaws, but I think that’s an unreliable cliche. Is CMW’s reflection the Elite Eight team of 2017 or this team? Was Billy Donovan’s reflection the back to back NC teams, the subsequent back to back NIT teams, the teams that failed to get out of the first round of the tournament for five straight seasons, or the sub-.500 team in his last season? If we translate this to football, this year’s Gator team may have given “relentless effort”, but CDM was still an SEC East title away from matching his predecessor’s first season. Is that CDM’s reflection?

  7. This team has no business being in the NCAA Tournament. It was a great effort last night versus LSU but ultimately we don’t have enough size or talent to consistently beat the best teams. Mike White needs to rethink his recruiting strategy and get some size on the team. Playing four guards and and an undersized big man might work in a mid major conference but not in the SEC.

    Also, I’m so tired of hearing how great Nembhard is. Sure, he makes some great passes, but he also blows more point blank lay ups than anyone I’ve ever seen.

    Better luck next year.

  8. these seniors are talented, but as Billy Donovan said, the chemistry that the 04s have is rare. It took a few things, the excitement of Coach Donovan in his early prime, the spirit of Joachim Noah, who was willing to be a ballboy to learn the game, worked harder than anyone, showed that even though his dad was a tennis icon, he was going to fight to be something special in basketball, and then the surrounding guys that fed off of that and built up the program. i dont know where the next noah is, but days like today you just have to savor what once was. i dont doubt these kids have worked hard and tried with all they have, and who are we as gator fans to not appreciate that. What Noah taught us, was that it takes something unique, pursuit of excellence with the understanding that perfection isnt going to happen, these traits i hope can come back here, as that is what the University of Florida is all about. If a player chooses a lesser school, like Georgia or Arkansas or South Carolina, you know they will not be unique, and it is doubly painful to lose to one of those schools in anything. hopefully we can use this to find our way back.

  9. For what its worth (and probably not much), here is where I am with Mike White…
    I think we are at a Will Muschamp crossroads here and it could go either way. I completely understand that White has had difficulty with this team and that these players don’t necessarily have the heart or basketball talent to be any better than a bubble team. I also understand that White can’t shoot for the guys and he can’t make the guys remember how much time is left on the clock. One season is an anomaly, but these issues have been program wide for 4 years now.

    Over the past 4 seasons, the Gators average 12 losses a year. By the time the season is over, they will be averaging over 13 losses a year (unless they defeat UK, win the SEC tournament and the National Championship). That is not a reflection of just this season, that is a reflection of White’s total tenure. Thirteen losses a season will land you on the bubble every single year. Comparatively, in the previous 19 seasons, UF lost 13 games in a season only 5 times and that includes 96 and 97. With 3 more losses on the year, White will be averaging the same number of losses-per-year as Lon Kruger and only 1 loss less than Norm Sloan. We are back to being a perennial bubble program, with some great NIT showings. NIT Final Four shirts for everyone!

    People like to claim that Billy Donovan left the program in a mess, but that is just not true. He went 16-17 in his final season, but took his teams to four straight Elite Eights. Also, in his final year, he had to completely rebuild his teams and had 2 McDonald’s All Americans that just didn’t pan out. If Mike White gets a pass, then Billy D should DEFINITELY get a pass for that season. His foundation set up White’s second season. White had to put the pieces together and deserves the credit, but the top scorers on that team were recruited by Billy Donovan. White did keep the recruiting classes together, but Kasey Hill, Chiozza and Robinson were all primarily recruited by Donovan. In addition, Stone and Hayes committed to UF prior to Donovan’s departure and Allen committed just 2 months after he left.

    The good news is that White has a great recruiting class coming in next year to build on the freshman that we have this year. I think that next season is the do-or-die year. In my opinion, he needs to be under 10 losses on the year and competitive in the SEC going into the final week. If this program is hovering around 12-14 losses and fighting for 6th place in the SEC, then it will be time to find a new coach. Next year’s team will be young, but most teams in college basketball are young and a poor showing will definitely be evidence of a trend back to the days of mediocrity with the occasional breakthrough season. But unlike the 1980s, fans aren’t going to be rushing out to purchase NIT Final Four shirts and packing the O’dome to see if we can play our way in to a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament.

    • Next year will be a great barometer of where Coach White has the program going. The real truth with basketball is the regular season is just about getting into the tourney. Get into the dance, make the second weekend and the regular season is just about forgotten. Go Gators!!

      • I couldn’t agree more about the goal of the regular season. You want to get in the dance. The reason why the losses per season is so important is because of the seeding. Twelve and thirteen losses gets you the 7,8 or 9 seed. That means a 1st round game against a mid-major conference champion or another 12-13 loss power-5 team. If you win that game, you are rewarded with a match-up with a #1 or #2 seed. It makes getting to the 2nd weekend almost impossible. If you lose under 10 games, you can get a 3,4 or 5 seed. That keeps you away from the top seeds until the 2nd weekend.

    • Very well said, O’ Town Gator! I did live through the 1980’s here in Hogtown, and for the record, I NEVER bought or wore ”an Gator NIT shirt.” In fact, I remember (though the U.F. Admin. does NOT) the ”Stormin’ Norman” and Monte Towe Gators making it to the ”Sweet 16” in the 1987 NCAA Tourney . Then losing to freakn’ Syracuse (and Rony Seikaly) by only 6 pts. (I think). But your argument for Mike White is factually accurate and quite appropriate for ”the day after.” And now Coach Mike White is somewhere in the O’ Dome mumbling, ”Wait ’till NEXT YEAR!”
      Go Gators!

      • I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the NIT t-shirt comment. My family has been season ticket holders for basketball since the Moten/Maxwell days and the Sweet 16. I just remember when you would get the media guide in the mail and there would be huge pictures of the 1986 NIT Final Four team. We hung a banner and everything. Norm Sloan then got us into the tournament and I remember the Sweet 16 trip well. Billy Donovan took us to another level and I don’t want us to slide back to a perennial bubble team.

  10. I’m a fan of CMW, but what I would like to know is:

    1. The LSU PG Waters had 4 fouls half way thru the second half. What was the reason for not running a play designed to post that kid up 3-4 times with a guard to try to foul him out? Nembhard is good enough to draw a foul down there, plus he keeps his dribble and can pass out of a double team. Waters is 5’11”. As soon as that kid picked up his fourth, someone on the Gators bench should’ve been thinking about how to take advantage of that.
    2. It was clear LSU’s strategy was to attack the lane due to their size advantage. During the game I was wondering why CMW never goes to two bigs at the same time to help Hayes, and maybe open up more hustle opportunities for him. Lo and behold, Bassett and Hayes end first half on floor together. Gators go on run with some second chance points from both of them, even with awful Bassett three attempt, and close out half well. Then we don’t see two bigs again. On one play in the second half, Hayes guards Reid, stops him, then hustles to get board on opposite of rim. He has zero help on the boards and does twice as much as he should have to considering his size. He had 15 boards. Rest of starters 13.
    3. What is the reason for players just disappearing from the rotation? Stokes gets little time tonight. He played well in first LSU game. I don’t get it, especially with thin front court, let him eat some minutes. I get LSU spreads it out exposing Stokes a bit on defense and doesn’t have the best stamina. I would just like to know why guys who are subbed in earlier, just get shelved seemingly without reason. I get why Ballard gets shelved. He doesn’t play within a team concept.

    I’m sure CMW has his reasons for why small ball is the formula for this team. But when Allen is having a woeful night (even if it is senior night) and Hayes is maxing out… give the guy some help. You might even get more out of him because he’s not having to battle the opposing 4 AND 5 every play. Hayes was Dennis Rodman last night. His energy level was amazing. A little help for him would be nice.

    Go Gators.

    • Good points and why Coach White wouldn’t do those things is perhaps the reason he’s not an elite coach. His in game adjustments are not very good (Waters has 4 fouls – try to get him out of the game) and even his game to game ones aren’t either as we should have played Bassett and Hayes together more since game 1 (plus put Stokes in there too somehow even with his quickness and stamina issues) as it’s been evident we need rebounding/inside scoring and to give Hayes help. Your not suppose to be able to out think a great coach and call for moves ahead of him (maybe occasionally) that’s why they get paid so well and do what they do. They are at the top of a profession. You groan about a missed shot or layup etc. A great coach maximizes victories. Do we have that here? No, not great which is the standard at UF.

    • I think CMW is playing “small ball” out of necessity. Until Hayes’ performance in this game, Keyontae Johnson, at 6′ 5″, was the leading rebounder on the team. It was only Hayes’ third double digit rebound performance of the season. Johnson has that many himself and has only started half as many games. When Stone was playing, there were plenty of times he and Hayes were in the game together. The potential liabilities of playing Bassett and Hayes, or Stokes and Hayes, together for extended minutes are too great. Mark Wise describes the offense as having to play 4 on 5 because of Hayes’ deficiencies. If you put Bassett in there with him, it becomes 3 on 5, because Bassett’s hands and footwork aren’t much better than Hayes. Stokes has good hands and some good post moves, but he’s not particularly quick, not much of a leaper, still struggles with conditioning, and, as a result, isn’t a very good defender or rebounder.

      CMW’s biggest problem, imo, is that he’s lacking players, in large part due to injury. It’s like trying to play a chess match when all your pieces are pawns. If Stone, Stokes, and Gak can come back fit and healthy next season and Bassett can improve his offensive skills a bit, with the addition of the 4 star Payne, CMW should have a decent front court next year. If he doesn’t have a good run next season, then I’ll have to concede that you guys are right about his coaching ability.

  11. The Gators miss a lot of bunnies and they get a lot of shots blocked at the rim. This is recurring theme all season. I get that they are not a “big” team. But that little guy from LSU sure managed to dribble thru the entire Gators team for a layup in the closing seconds. He didn’t get blocked at the rim.

    Make a few layups. Make a few more free throws and they win in regulation. This was a good effort from the boys. I’m not saying it’s proof they stand toe-to-toe with any Top 10 team. But on Senior night, they played well enough to beat a Top 10 team – almost.

  12. Too little, too late, and too typical for this Men’s Gator Basketball team.
    ” ‘It’s the same thing for a long time,’ Coach White said.”-Gatorsports.com.
    But I am happy that Jalen Hudson ”went off” in his last game in the O’ Dome in the Orange & Blue. It’s just too bad the entire Gator Basketball team rarely plays well at the same time, and in the same game.