Ugly home loss to Georgia for Florida, 61-55

72
2417
Florida guard Andrew Nembhard attempts to score as Georgia forward Amanze Ngumezi applies pressure during Saturday's game at the O'Connell Center. [Lauren Bacho/Staff photographer]

Looking to bolster their NCAA Tournament hopes, the Florida Gators hardly resembled a basketball team coming off of a 16-point win on the road.

Beleaguered Georgia led for nearly the entire game before claiming its second conference win Saturday with a 61-55 undoing of Florida at the Exactech Arena in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, in turn snapping the Gators season-best five-game winning streak.

“I thought Georgia was more deserving, for sure. Which is a shame,” UF coach Mike White said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance.”

Florida (17-12, 9-7 SEC) trailed for nearly the entire first half while the Bulldogs, who had lost the last four games by just a combined nine points, had little trouble scoring inside with sophomore forward Nicholas Claxton, who scored a career-high 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting, leading the charge.

With Georgia (11-18, 2-14 SEC) clutching a slim one-point lead just three minutes until the halftime break, freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard, who leads UF in minutes per game this season, fell to the floor and came up clutching his lower back. He would head to the locker room and be diagnosed with back spasms, although the Ontario, Canada, native was out on the floor after halftime. In his absence, however, his teammates managed to break through, albeit momentarily, as UF claimed a one-point lead, its first advantage of the night, on the final shot of the period, a Mike Okauru 3-pointer. Much of the credit in turning the tide before the break went to Florida’s defense, as 15 of UF’s 28 points in the first half came off of Georgia turnovers.

With Florida’s offense stagnant coming out of the locker room, the Gators worked to get shooting guard KeVaughn Allen going early after the halftime break. But when Florida needed a basket, the possession seemingly ended in a turnover or contested shot more often than not, as Allen would finish with just five points on 1-for-10 shooting.

“You just have to be really aware that they’re going to go to him,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said of Allen. “We were very cognizant of where he was the entire night.”

From there, Florida’s offensive woes only continued.

After freshman Noah Locke hit a 3-pointer with 13:54 to play, the Gators wouldn’t score again from the field for nearly nine minutes.

“I feel like there was energy, but it wasn’t focused,” UF senior center Kevarrius Hayes said. “Not enough discipline. Falling for shot fakes, getting backdoored. I feel the energy was good, but still have to have the focus and discipline.”

Despite the drop-off on the offensive end, Florida still had opportunities late; yet the Gators, who entered the night ranked 10th in the country in defensive efficiency, couldn’t stop the Dawgs when it mattered most, as Georgia would convert its final five shot attempts.

Jalen Hudson, who scored a team-high 13 points, albeit on 4-for-13 shooting, converted from long-range with under two minutes to play to cut Georgia’s lead to 55-53. But Claxton would convert twice in the paint to keep UGA in front for the remainder of the contest.

The Gators will wrap up the home slate Wednesday at 7 p.m. against LSU in what will serve as Senior Night for Allen, Hayes and Hudson.

“As a staff, we had immense concern coming into this one,” said White, who turned 42 Saturday. “They’re coming in having lost these past four, all one-possession games, against NCAA Tournament teams. If they continued to play that way, they were bound to break through. Unfortunately, it was against us.”

GEORGIA 61, FLORIDA 55
GEORGIA (11-18)

Claxton 9-12 5-5 25, Ogbeide 2-3 1-2 5, Harrison 2-3 0-0 4, Harris 3-6 3-4 9, Jackson 2-8 2-2 6, Hammonds 0-0 0-0 0, Wilridge 3-3 0-1 6, Ngumezi 0-0 0-0 0, Fagan 1-1 0-0 3, Crump 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 23-41 11-14 61.

FLORIDA (17-12)

Johnson 2-5 2-2 6, Hayes 4-5 0-2 8, Allen 1-10 2-2 5, Nembhard 2-6 4-4 8, Locke 3-7 0-0 7, Stokes 0-0 2-2 2, Bassett 1-1 0-0 2, Okauru 1-1 1-2 4, Hudson 4-13 3-4 13, Ballard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 14-18 55.

Halftime_Florida 28-27. 3-Point Goals_Georgia 4-10 (Claxton 2-2, Fagan 1-1, Crump 1-4, Harris 0-1, Jackson 0-2), Florida 5-21 (Hudson 2-5, Okauru 1-1, Locke 1-5, Allen 1-6, Johnson 0-1, Nembhard 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Georgia 19 (Harrison, Ogbeide 5), Florida 27 (Hayes 6). Assists_Georgia 10 (Harris 4), Florida 10 (Allen, Nembhard 4). Total Fouls_Georgia 19, Florida 12.

72 COMMENTS

  1. This Gator team can’t afford to play disjointed and uninspired basketball, like they did tonight, at the beginning of March.
    The Gator offense regressed, and U.G.A. somehow wanted it more tonight. And the leg-humpers are not even on the proverbial “NCAA bubble.” So come on Gators, get up… and stay up! You all can rest in the summer.

    • Daz, I think the route is the same as it was, maybe just tougher, now. The route is to finish 10-6 in conference and win one in the SEC tourney to get to 19-14. It’s more difficult now, because it means beating LSU, but since the Gators already did it in Baton Rouge, we know it’s possible. That would be another high level Q1 win. The loss to UGA was bad, but bad losses don’t negate the good wins.

      • Joe, I agree with ”bad loses don’t negate the good W’s,” but when U.F.’s ”starting 5” can’t score more than 34 pts. at home against their arch-rival, U.G.A., well…?!?! The story is (L.S.U., U.G.A., and even F.S.U.) that long athletic teams get in these Gator guys heads, apparently… and they freak out! I can say anything’s possible for Tourney time, but L.S.U., U.G.A. and F.S.U. has shown the NCAA Men’s B-ball world how to beat U.F. Men’s Basketball (if your team’s long and strong). So now it’s up to the fellas wearing the Orange & Blue to make it a different ending. Go Gators!

        • Forgive my ”Freudian slip,” as I have, quite possibly, the team that has U.F.s post season destiny in their hands, L.S.U. But I meant Mich. State, FSU, U.G.A. All long athletic teams (and aren’t they all in basketball?) that gave U.F head games. Go Gators!

          • I agree, gi. That type of team poses problems for UF, but they did beat UGA in Athens, and fought MSU to a one-possession game. Imo, they need Hayes to be more aggressive in those games and deny position to the bigs. Their defensive rotation and switching needs to be better to avoid having a guy like Nembhard trying to defend a guy like Claxton in the post. A little more offense from Hayes and Stokes couldn’t hurt, either. I’m not brazen enough to predict a win over LSU and a spot in the Dance, but it’s easily within this team’s ability. The question isn’t “Can they?”; it’s “Will they?”. The one thing I’d like to see most is some serious fire and passion (ok, two things). That would go a long way toward answering the question.

  2. Disagree. I don’t see a lack of effort or desire. They just don’t have enough – period. Undersized. Offensively challenged. Defensively very good (but still struggle against skilled bigs). They’ve played better recently, but that doesn’t change the reality. – on the bright side, Johnson and stokes are going to real deal. Johnson already breaking out. Stokes just needs more games and minutes so that he can play a little more relaxed.

    • I feel the same. This just isn’t a very good team. I think there are some good players, but the sum in this case is less than the parts. We had a nice streak and an okay season but all it ever was going to come down to was an early exit from the tourney or an early exit from the NIT.

      • Yep – “just isn’t a very good team.”

        Consider:

        1) no gak, then losing Stone really hamstrung this team. Neither was a rockstar but both were important for this team.
        2) if KA is your offensive focal point as a D1 team, you’re going to be limited. He’s a good player/Gator, but on a any good D1 team he would be a nice piece, not option 1. Same for Hudson.
        3) Coach white is taking some heat. Watching that offense I can understand why. It’s ugly. But it seems clear to me it has a lot more to do with the talent than White. Look at his track record, it’s good offensively. This, as a wise man one said “ just isn’t a very good team.”

      • Yep – “just isn’t a very good team.”

        Consider:

        1) no gak, then losing Stone really hamstrung this team. Neither was a rockstar but both were important for this team. We won’t even consider Johnson because it just wasn’t to be for him at UF.
        2) if KA is your offensive focal point as a D1 team, you’re going to be limited. He’s a good player/Gator, but on a good D1 team he would be a nice piece, not option 1. Same for Hudson.
        3) Coach white is taking some heat. Watching that offense I can understand why. It’s ugly. But it seems clear to me it has a lot more to do with what we’ve got than White. Look at his track record, it’s good offensively. This, as a wise man once said, “just isn’t a very good team.”

    • Think you’re right, scrud, but I did think there was a lapse in intensity and focus. I previously thought Locke was in a slump, but now I think it’s mostly bad shot selection. He took a number of off balance shots curling around screens that had no chance. When he squared up and set his feet, he shot well. Allen and Hudson had trouble finishing in contrast to recent games. They can be good enough to compete with the better teams, but they have to be focused and shoot well to win.

    • Agree with this assessment. Our glaring weakness is no bigs and the in ability to protect the paint or worst score from the paint when the shots aren’t falling. We match up well to teams with similar problems but can’t control most games when they’re long. Locke should have been the alternate go to guy (not Allen) when teams harass Allen all night. Hayes plays hard but he’s the last guy you want getting a hard pass in the paint. He simply doesn’t catch well or worst, anticipate the passes on a driving layup from one of the guys going to the basket.

  3. Basically shut down our guards 3 pt shooting and with little inside game this is how you beat us. It would be nice to see Coach White play 2 of our bigger guys at the same time for parts of the game to mix it up a little especially tonight when we needed an inside presence. Get ready for LSU!

  4. A very bad home loss for the Committee to consider. I watched the whole thing…back to at least watching. UGA did execute a good defense against our perimeter shooting. White and team had no answer and no fire. Sad, because you could tell UGA players couldn’t move the ball around like our guys. It will be interesting to see if we respond (likely not) or just mail it in.

  5. Ugly, ugly, ugly. This is what is so frustrating about this team. They play well for a few games and win some tough games on the road, and you think, OK they got it, them are going to be OK. Then something like this happens. They lose a game at home to a terrible team. Inexcusable. No offense. One stepped up. KA can’t be the only guy to shoot. here did the rest of the team go? Horrible, loss. Forget the NCAA’s this team does not make it.

  6. Perfect storm tonight. Hayes couldn’t hit free throws, Allen only had the one open look in the first half, Hudson couldn’t finish around the rim (even though he got there all night long), Stokes couldn’t keep his cool. UGA’s length bothered us. Reminded me of the UK game. Front court depth showed tonight. But at least my name isn’t Mike Winter and at least Wllie Taggert ain’t the UF football coach. Just think…FSU has to ride out another year or two of bad play before they will fire him and hit reset on the rebuild again. Go Gators!

  7. Is there a name for the Mike White’s offensive scheme? What I mostly see is four guys standing around the perimeter doing nothing while one guy dribbles pointlessly for 10 seconds. If the defense challenges him, someone runs back, they pass the ball back and forth, more pointless dribbling. Finally, the guy drives the lane, the defense collapses on him, he takes a bad shot that usually doesn’t fall.

    It would seem that when this doesn’t work you would come up with a plan B- crazy idea, pass the ball when the defense collapses instead of taking a bad shot– but Mike White just keeps calling the same play, after each failed shot screaming, “I am the Nussmeir of Basketball!!!!!”

    Anyway, if it doesn’t have a name, I suggest, “The Sputter and Stall.”

      • Sometimes as they are all just standing around doing nothing, I’ll see the point guard point to someone and yell something. All I can figure he is saying is “pretend you are a statue! Don’t move! No matter what happens, you must not move! Ever!” Because after his little instructions all the player ever seems to do is continue to stand there doing nothing.

        Meanwhile, the defense always has this gleeful look like– I can’t believe they are making it so easy!

    • I made a similar observation earlier in the season. Ironically, we put about 3-4 guards on the floor at the same time, together with Hayes–who was a track star in high school–and we slow the ball down in the half court against taller, longer teams? Does that make sense? And we would still win probably 4-5 more games if we made a higher percentage of free throws. You would think a team of guards would shoot it better. I would love to see what would happen if , for one game, we were up tempo the whole game and reduced our time of possession by 10 seconds. The worst thing that would happen is we would lose…anyway. If you can’t shoot very well you might as well shoot more . 20?% of 80 is still better than 20% of 60. But this team can’t really turn it on like that right now after playing a different way all season.

        • Kinda reminds you of a couple of football coaches we have had. But, look, I like Mike White. I think he knows his team is offensively challenged and is trying to play for the best shot in order to not waste their opportunities. I just think a different strategy may be worth a shot given the offensive results of the one they have been using. This team has to work too hard to win games.

  8. Georgia didn’t beat us we beat ourselves. If Nembhard doesn’t control the game for us as point guard we stink. He’s a great player but a few games this year he’s settled for passing off to the first person he sees instead of creating a shot for someone. Now he did have back spasms during the first half and that probably influenced his play, but no other player on the team can play point guard and we look so disorganized when he’s not on point. It’s so disheartening when you’re watching the game and thinking we’ve reverted to our old play of just looking like we forgot everything we’ve been doing for the last five games. Anyways, hopefully we get our mojo back and play like we are capable because 55 points is not going to cut it against our next opponents. Go Gators!

  9. I hate to blame coaching, but our last offensive effort at the end of the first half says it all. That was awful – KA holds it until 5 seconds then dribbles into trouble and loses the ball. White cannot escape accountability for that type of play calling and a team at the edge of the dance that admits to a lack of focus at home. Regrettably, we will be a lot better next year without KA, JH, and KH. We need some coaching to get better.

    • This team is very limited offensively. KA is just a pure shooter. He cannot create, he cannot handle the ball and cannot take the ball to the basket. JH has forgotten how to play basketball from last year to this year. He is the most perplexing player on the team. He went from great to non-existent. What happened? KH was never an offensive scorer. However, with his size, hustle he could have and should have developed an inside game of some sorts in 4 years. He did not. Why? He should be able to score 10-12 points a game, every game inside. They should be better next year with these guys gone.

  10. At home, playing an SEC opponent with only one SEC win, against SEC-winless Vandy, and UGA comes in and basically embarrasses us in our house. You cannot, absolutely cannot lose a game like this against a team this bad at this juncture of the season.

    This is White’s fourth year, it’s his players, and his scheme, and inconsistency still reigns supreme. I like the guy and think he reps UF well, and I want to see him succeed, but as I already said about a week ago, we’d run off a good little win streak and then a loss like this would raise it’s ugly head and demonstrate that this is a coach who just isn’t the right fit at UF.

    White’s finesse perimeter basketball philosophy isn’t going to cut it at UF.

    • Totally agree.

      White’s hallmark the past 2 seasons has been home losses. A total of TEN of them in the past 2 seasons, with a possible 11th this week vs LSU.

      I’m not saying White should be fired but his seat will be hot next year. It’s not even a debate.

      • Ridiculous comment. Absolutely ridiculous. THIS is why UF can’t be a basketball school. Low information basketball “fans” like you guys. Mike White is a great coach. They were in the ELITE EIGHT in his second season, FFS! Made the big dance in his third year as well. And will probably be in again this year, despite the fact that his two best scorers – Allen and Hudson – basically forgot how to play basketball for some reason.

        • What’s ridiculous is ridiculing people over their opinion and you drinking the White Kool aid. In regards to the Elite Eight, it was a lucky shot by Chiozza. As you may recall, Florida was up big in the second half before loosing the lead. Let people express their opinion.

          • You’re absolutely right about expressing one’s opinion, and CMS is just expressing his (hers?), as well. It may be a little harsh, but it’s still his opinion. You’re also right about Chiozza’s lucky shot, but it was a pretty lucky shot by Wisconsin to get the lead in the first place. It was also two lucky FT misses by Donyell Marshall of UConn in 1994, a lucky shot by Mike Miller in the first round against Butler in 2000, and a lucky shot by Corey Brewer against Georgetown in 2006, that got UF to its first 3 Final Fours. You don’t usually get that far without a little luck.

  11. Georgia had length and athleticism like FSU, and we lost.That gives us problems. We don’t have length inside.They have two more games to make a statement. Lenardi has them as a 9 th seed in the NCAA’s
    Reading these negative replies to the loss seems like everyone was sucking lemons before typing!!!

  12. This Gator team is very limited by its lack of size in the front court, which hurts on both ends of the court when confronted by a team with athletic size in the paint. Their inconsistency in shooting free throws only adds to their problems.

    So, if they don’t give a concentrated team effort for a full 40 minutes, they have no way to win close games. Don’t overlook the fact that this was a one-point game with around 3 minutes left, before the Gators just faded away.

  13. Reading thru these posts, inconsistency is the consistent theme. Think of at Alabama, then at LSU, who would predict the Georgia game would turn out so terrible? All those who mentioned inconsistency, both with the players and the coaches. Still, with two ranked opponents waiting on the schedule and the SEC tournament, I’m not ready to call this an NIT team. As for last night, thbbbbbbbb!

  14. They played a horrible game, the first one in quite a while. 45 negative parts from guys who probably can’t hit the rim from the free throw line. Chill, boys. This team is the same as it has been all year. Their offense is risky and when their shooters are in, they can start with anybody. When it’s off, they can lose to anybody. STFU with your NIT crap. The unpredictability of this team means they are just as likely to win the next to as get blown out. I think they’ve got one of these next two games.

  15. Lots of ‘sky is falling’ posts. The Georgia team had absolutely NOTHING to lose. and they played like it. UF will be fine-they’re still in the dance I think but this was just a bad spot for them. Georgia just played more loose and with more grit. They should bounce back against the tigahs. GEAUXXX GATORS!!

    • It’s absurd, isn’t it? This team is fine. They desperately need some consistency from Allen and Hudson, and Nembhard needs to be healthy. But we know that’s possible. If they can dig out a win against LSU or Kentucky, and/or make a deep run in the SEC tourney, they can get a 9-seed (maybe an 8 even). But this notion that White isn’t a good coach or he should be on the hot seat?! GTFO. His recruiting class next year is probably the second best in Gator history? He took this team to the Elite Eight two years ago, and back to the dance last year. I mean, come on.

  16. With this team, White (and fans) never know what type of team will show up at gametime. OFFENSIVELY CHALLENGED. No point in listing all the player negatives. Been there and done that this year. I will say Nembs needs to improve at the point, but this is only his first year.

  17. Another ugly loss. If you cannot get motivated in front of your home crowd and with the possibility of getting into March Madness, then there obvious problems with the players and coaches. Another year where no seniors will be headed to the NBA. It all comes down to recruiting and developing players, of which current coaching does not have the ability. Florida has shooters but not scorers and only when shooters are hot can Florida score, which is not very often. Recruit scorers.

  18. With this group of Gators you never what you are going to get. Great defensive, totally erratic offense. Not one guard hits at least 40% of his threes. And with no inside presence, or dribble drive score or pass, and no up tempo game, one can only hope the Gators who beat LSU on their court and beat Ole Miss will show up. Not the pathetic performances of Saturday. Where have you gone Mr. Locke? Stokes? Allen? Hayes is a bust in the middle and Hudson is an enigma. Am Looking forward to 2019-20 when 2 all-americans arrive. Of course that means nothing if nobody still can’t hit a 3 worth a darn. Georgia shot 57%, Gators just 30%. they only lost by 5. However, Gators only scored 56. Pathetic. And that’s no moral victory, that;s just an embarrassing loss. If nobody can shot 40-44% consistently from 3 pt. land next year, it’s going to be dismal. There will be no up-tempo gAME without at least two 3pt. shooters at 40% plus on the ‘catch-and-shoot’ break, no strong rebounders, nobody to run the point on the break (Nembs, pick up your game this summer, learn to drive or shoot off the screen, learn to drive and kick-out and learn to stop dribbling so much without movement. ) and no bench. Take a page from Lee Humphrey. He shot 500 3pt shots every day and NEVER left the gym until he made 10 straight. This is the SEC, not the ymca or PAL. And this team needs a strong, in-your-face leader. I will now shut up unless this team makes the final 4 or beats LSU and KY.