Towson (2-1) vs. No. 15 Florida (1-1)
When:7 p.m. today
Where: Stephen C. O’Connell Center
The Florida men’s basketball team’s 12-point loss Sunday to Florida State followed a fairly familiar formula: The Gators struggled to establish a flow on offense, with much credit going to the Seminoles’ stifling defense.
Yet the loss felt much different, considering the Gators entered the contest clutching a No. 6 ranking in the AP Top 25, thanks to a top-10 recruiting class, the return of Florida’s sophomore trio and the addition of graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr.
After those new additions shot just 3-for-20 from the field, Gators coach Mike White hopes his side bounces back on the offensive end against Towson (2-1) at 7 p.m. today in the Exactech Arena.
“I think our mindset was ‘You know, we’re down, I got to score, let me get the ball. Now the ball’s in my hands, now I’m going to go make a play’ as opposed to taking what the defense gives you,” White said. “We weren’t having any success driving them and making plays, outside of Keyontae Johnson, he was really good, of course, in that regard. But our advantage off of all those switches was our post guys being open, and we just did a bad job of post-passing.”
Despite posting his second double-double in as many tries, Blackshear didn’t convert a field goal against FSU, making him the SEC’s first player since the 2000-01 season to achieve the mark.
Yet it wasn’t because the preseason first-team All-SEC big man missed an inordinate amount of shots; the Gators (1-1) simply didn’t do an adequate job feeding Blackshear in the post, said White.
“I think it’s more so the mentality. I just think we have the wrong approach,” White said. “The biggest negative, again, is guys trying to do it on their own. And we hadn’t seen that to this point. The stage was big, the game was big. You’re on ESPN, we got a great crowd and we tried to play some hero-ball.”
With a high amount of ball-dominant guards and wings, much of Florida’s roster may simply be unaccustomed to playing through the low-post.
“Experience is always going to be a factor with this team,” said White. “We did have bigs posting guards and didn’t do a good job of throwing it in the post, (Blackshear) had guys sealed up the lane several times. Again, credit (FSU’s) ball pressure, but we’ve got to do a better job of checking the defense, having an understanding of where the ball needs to go, when it needs to go in there. Especially off of those switches. Especially when we’re struggling to make a three, let’s get some paint touches.”
Aside from the offense shifting more toward running through Blackshear, Florida’s frontcourt may soon be in for another boost in production. Redshirt junior center Gorjok Gak is nearing his return to the court after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the preseason, and the possibility remains that the 6-foot-11 native of Sydney, Australia, could be active against Towson, while fellow redshirt junior Dontay Bassett is close to returning from a nagging deep bone bruise.
If the Gators continue shooting from long-range the way they have out of the gate – UF is just 7-for-37 from downtown to begin the season — the play of the frontcourt may continue to be a deciding factor for Florida.
“I think those are big additions to our team. It just gives us different options, to play big, small, different line-ups,” Blackshear said of the imminent returns of Bassett and Gak. “I think it makes us really versatile, and lethal, on both ends of the floor.”
Keyontae Johnson F 6-5 231 So. 13.0 ppg 5.5 rpg
Kerry Blackshear Jr. F 6-10 241 Gr. 15.0 ppg 11.5 rpg
Andrew Nembhard G 6-5 193 So. 4.0 ppg 3.5 apg
Noah Locke G 6-3 207 So. 8.0 ppg 1.0 3fg
Tre Mann G 6-4 172 Fr. 8.0 ppg 3.0 rpg
Dennis Tunstall F 6-9 225 RSr. 6.7 ppg 6.0 rpg
Charles Thompson F 6-7 235 Fr. 5.7 ppg 9.3 rpg
Allen Betrand G 6-5 200 So. 12.03 ppg 6.7 rpg
Jakigh Dottin G 6-2 211 So. 4.3 ppg 3.3 rpg
Brian Fobbs G 6-5 210 Sr. 14.0 ppg 5.0 rpg
Notes: Florida and Towson meet for just the second time in program history, with the Gators taking the previous meeting in Gainesville back in 1988 … The Tigers are just the 2nd Colonial Athletic Association opponent Florida has faced under coach Mike White, defeating James Madison two seasons ago … Florida is 10-3 all-time vs. current CAA teams … The Gators look to bounce back from Sunday’s setback against Florida State, where Keytontae Johnson’s 8 field goals made were more than the rest of UF’s players combined (6) … Kerry Blackshear posted his 2nd consecutive double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, with all 10 points coming at the free throw line … The Gators rank 3rd in the SEC in free throw percentage (.762) and offensive rebounds (16.0) in the early going.