Florida may be back in the top-25, but Friday’s late tip-off with Marshall was another indication the team remains a work in progress.
Freshman point guard Ques Glover led the way with 14 points, as the No. 24 Gators claimed a 73-67 win over Marshall, but once again the contest was closer than coach Mike White and the Florida faithful anticipated.
Favored by 20 points, the Gators led by 11 with 2:17 remaining yet found themselves clutching a two-point lead with under a minute to play.
Considering the two practices leading up to tip, White wasn’t surprised.
“Horrendous,” White said of the team’s energy level in practice. “These guys, I don’t know sometimes who these guys are listening to. I don’t know what they’re reading.”
Marshall led 33-25 at the halfway point and looked well on the way to serving UF its second home loss of the season before the Gators outscored the Thundering Herd, 48-34, over the final 20 minutes. UF started 0-for-11 from long-range and didn’t register an assist or a 3-pointer until Andrew Nembhard found Noah Locke open in the corner with 13:33 to play.
Before then, shots just wouldn’t fall, leading White to praise Marshall’s defensive approach, but that didn’t justify Florida’s play in the eyes of the fifth-year UF coach.
“Four assists, 14 turnovers for the game. Getting shots blocked, jumping up in the air, making crazy decisions. Trying to make something out of nothing. Splitting defenders. Wrong spots, wrong time, for five or six plays in the first half,” White said. “Marshall, they down every ball screen. It’s very unique, and they’re good at it. To combat that, we put in some wrinkles. Didn’t execute any of that like we did this morning in shoot-around, or this afternoon rather. Just a really poor focus level. We played immature.”
Glover had little trouble executing, however. He repeatedly displayed confidence around the basket and didn’t hesitate to put the ball on the floor and drive through contact, resulting in his first game leading the Gators in scoring.
After scoring just two points combined in Florida’s first four contests, Glover has now registered 40 points in the last four games.
“He just got it going a little bit, I want to say the first time was maybe our first game in Charleston. Was that the first time he played, he scored it a little bit? You know, anytime I was asked before then I would say he has some really big practices. We knew that it would just be a matter of time before he broke through,” White said of Glover. “Ques was really good. Other guys did some good things, of course. We weren’t the same team tonight.”
One of those “other guys” was fellow freshman Scottie Lewis. Regarded as one of the best two-way players in the 2019 recruiting class, Lewis has begun to display his defensive prowess as of late. He notched four steals — a season-high — and recorded three of UF’s five blocks to help turn the tide in the second half.
With the Gators still developing on the offensive end, performances on the defensive end like Lewis’ may continue to be game-changing in the early going.
“Scottie gave us great energy and we were trying to feed off of him, so it helped us get the lead and we were scoring off of it,” sophomore Keyontae Johnson said. “I mean, we’d rather take an ugly win than a bad loss. We just have to lock in better and focus more as a team and just keep buying in.”
UF plays at Butler at 12 p.m. on Dec. 7, the return game in a home-and-home series. The Gators won the previous meeting 77-43 last December, one month after Butler upset Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
|No. 24 FLORIDA 73, MARSHALL 67|
J.Williams 6-12 1-2 17, Bennett 7-12 2-3 16, Beyers 1-6 0-0 2, West 2-9 1-2 5, Kinsey 5-13 4-5 14, George 2-5 1-2 6, Brooks-Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Miladinovic 0-0 1-2 1, Thomas 1-3 0-0 3, Sarenac 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 25-62 10-16 67.
Blackshear 3-6 4-4 10, Johnson 3-8 6-6 13, Locke 3-9 2-2 10, Lewis 3-8 1-2 7, Nembhard 4-7 0-0 8, Payne 0-0 0-2 0, Bassett 3-5 0-0 6, Glover 5-9 4-7 14, Mann 2-6 0-1 5. Totals 26-58 17-24 73.
Halftime_Marshall 33-25. 3-Point Goals_Marshall 7-24 (J.Williams 4-10, Sarenac 1-1, George 1-3, Thomas 1-3, Kinsey 0-1, Beyers 0-1, West 0-5), Florida 4-18 (Locke 2-7, Johnson 1-1, Mann 1-2, Nembhard 0-1, Glover 0-2, Bassett 0-2, Blackshear 0-3). Fouled Out_Blackshear. Rebounds_Marshall 28 (J.Williams, Bennett 6), Florida 37 (Lewis, Bassett 7). Assists_Marshall 12 (West 5), Florida 4 (Nembhard 4). Total Fouls_Marshall 20, Florida 12. Technicals_Beyers, Blackshear.