Missouri in the rearview, Gators looking to bounce back vs. Rebels

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Missouri's Javon Pickett shoots over Florida players during the second half Saturday in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won the game 91-75. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Mississippi (9-6, 0-2) vs. Florida (10-5, 2-1)

O’Connell Center, today, 7 p.m., ESPN2, 103.7-FM


Mike White admitted Florida’s 91-75 loss Saturday at Missouri was possibly the worst defensive performance by a college basketball team he’s coached in his nine seasons in the profession. 

With his alma mater coming to town for a 7 p.m. tip-off in Exactech Arena, the fifth-year UF coach is hoping a brief mental break will lead to a rejuvenation on the court. 

“If the game was still going on, they’d probably still be making 3s on us. Yesterday, we didn’t do a lot,” White said prior to Monday’s practice session. “We’re going to get after guys today, and if we see more of the same then we’ll get more of the same result against Ole Miss. Hopefully, we have a different mentality today.”

White said Florida’s preparation prior to traveling to Columbia, Missouri, was the “worst we’ve been in a month” — a stretch that saw the Gators (10-5, 2-1 SEC) go 4-1 following a 14-point loss at Butler on Dec. 7. 

And UF’s lethargic play was once again evident prior to tip-off, leading White and Florida’s coaching staff to issue a warning, of sorts. 

It was the first shoot-around, as a staff, that we got really agitated with our focus level and effort, discipline. We had to stop shoot-around and address our guys and let them know what they were in for if we didn’t make a 180. That’s what happened,” White said. “And I don’t want to take anything away from Missouri. I’m sure they had a better shoot-around than we did. I’m sure they had a better first few possessions of the game. It turned into a dominant performance by them for 40 minutes. They beat us in every category.”

Rather than continue to harp on the negatives in the post-game review session, and with an extra night to spend in Columbia and away from UF’s facilities, White said the Gators opted for a more positive approach — one that didn’t involve an immediate visual recapitulation. 

Instead, the Gators simply moved on in their preparation for Ole Miss (9-6, 0-2 SEC).

“The stubborn side of me always airs on ‘We’re going to watch it, we are going to watch it, I’m going to make y’all watch it. I don’t care, I know everyone else wants to move on, I ain’t moving on ‘till we watch it’. Well, this one was a little bit different because of the weather, we stayed another night. Per NCAA rules, I couldn’t watch film with them after the game as much as I wanted to. We did check, because I was planning on going back to the hotel and watching the entire game with our guys. We couldn’t do it, and by the time we landed here yesterday, with the time change, and came right to the practice facility, we had to lift and turn the page to Ole Miss immediately, so this was the only game all year that we hadn’t watched any of it, White said. “We did meet, pretty briefly after the game at the hotel as we ate. Addressed it, flushed it. That’s all we could do.

“I just don’t think it’s in our best interest to give ourselves a chance against the Rebels. I just think that we got to turn a page.”

Now, set to face the SEC’s leading active scorer in Breein Tyree, White and the Gators hope they simply left their defensive edge in Gainesville rather than lost it outright. 

Things add up. We had a bad practice going into the game, sometimes it happens like that. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes if you have a bad practice, you have a good game,” said sophomore shooting guard Noah Locke. “We just have got to focus on having better practices.”


PROJECTED STARTERS

Florida

Keyontae Johnson;F;6-5;231;So.;12.9 ppg;6.8 rpg

Kerry Blackshear Jr.;F;6-10;241;Gr.;15.1 ppg;8.4 rpg 

Andrew Nembhard;G;6-5;193;So.;11.1 ppg;5.9 apg

Noah Locke;G;6-3;207;So.;10.0 ppg;3.2 rpg 

Scottie Lewis;G;6-5;185;Fr.;9.3 ppg;4.9 rpg

Mississippi

Khadim Sy;F;6-10;240;Jr.;8.8 ppg;5.1 rpg

KJ Buffen;F;6-7;225;So.;9.7 ppg;6.6 rpg

Blake Hinson;G;6-7;229;So.;11.0 ppg;4.6 rpg

Devontae Shuler;G;6-2;190;Jr.;10.9 ppg;4.7 rpg

Breein Tyree;G;6-2;195;Sr.;17.8ppg;3.8 rpg

Notes:  Florida looks to rebound from its first SEC loss, falling at Missouri on Saturday night despite 22 points from Kerry Blackshear Jr. and a 10-for-23 3-point performance. Blackshear has scored 20+ points in 4 of the past 5 games, averaging 10 made free throws per game over that span (50-for-57, .877). Ole Miss and Florida are playing a home-and-home series for the first time since the 2015-16 season. Twelve of the past 15 games in the series have been decided by seven points or less.

1 COMMENT

  1. I am going to say it flat out – the Gator basketball team looked like a bunch of wannabees in the Missouri game. The Tigers owned the Gators from the get-go. If this team really wants to succeed, they need to give their ALL in EVERY game. We can chalk some of this up to youth, but take this to heart – IT IS TIME TO GROW UP AND BE MEN. Listen to your coaches – take in each and every word as if your life (career) depends upon it, because in the end, it DOES. GO GATORS – BEAT THE REBELS SILLY!!!