OXFORD, Miss. — Florida coach Mike White offered an all-too-familiar refrain when alluding to starting junior shooting guard KeVaughn Allen.
“I’ve got to find a way to get him going somehow,” White said.
The 6-foot-2 Allen had another off-shooting day Saturday at Ole Miss, going 2 of 9 from the floor and 1 of 6 from 3-point range during UF’s 78-72 loss to the Rebels. Allen finished with five points, three assists and three turnovers.
There was hope that Allen could break out, considering two years ago at the The Pavilion at Ole Miss, the North Little Rock, Ark., native scored 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting as a freshman. But the rough night from the field dropped Allen to 29.1-percent shooting from 3-point range on the season (25-86) and 29.4 percent from 3-point range in SEC play (5-17).
White said he doesn’t think it’s a case of needing to go back and examine Allen’s shooting mechanics, when he shot 37 percent from 3-point range on the season.
“KeVaughn is really shooting the ball in practice and you know, we do shooting drills in practice, where he’s knocking it down really consistent,” White said. “In talking to him, he’s a man of few words, but he feels confident, he feels good about himself. I don’t know what it is …
“I would bet he would have a big game pretty soon. I was hoping it would be against the Rebels.”
Allen had a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to tie the score at 31 at halftime and had a pretty assist on a bounce pass to Jalen Hudson in the first half. But with Hudson in foul trouble, Allen was unable to find a groove, turning the ball over twice in traveling violations in the second half. Allen was also caught out of position at times defensively while guarding Ole Miss guard Markel Crawford.
Florida teammates remain confident Allen will snap out of his season-long funk. Allen has scored in double figures in just seven of UF’s 17 games this season.
“His spirits are high,” Florida redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone said. “He’s going to make shots. We’ve seen it in practice every day. He just, it wasn’t falling for him today, but he’ll be perfectly fine come next game. I feel it.”
Frontcourt depth thin
With Florida sophomore center Gorjok Gak suffering a concussion in the first half, Florida’s frontcourt depth is now precariously thin.
“I don’t know how we’re going to practice here the next few days,” White said. “We’ve got seven scholarship players the last couple of weeks in practice and now we’ll be down to six.”
White said it was too early to tell the severity of Gak’s concussion, which occurred while fighting for a rebound with Ole Miss forward Marcanvis Hymon.
“(Freshman forward) Chase Johnson has had concussion symptoms for a couple of months and you just hope Gak responds better to some time off and we can get him back a lot quicker than we got Chase back,” White said. “We are really beat up in the front line.”
White said redshirt freshman forward Dontay Bassett has been practicing better lately and could be called upon off the bench until Gak returns. Bassett missed a layup late in the first half against Ole Miss and then followed it up with a frustration foul that led to a pair of Hymon free throws.
“I don’t mind the missed layup, it’s the frustration foul after, the immature decision,” White said. “It’s a four-point swing.”
White also said both freshman center Isaiah Stokes and senior center John Egbunu are making progress on their rehab from torn ACLs, but neither would be back by next week. Stokes traveled with the Gators and went through pregame warmups Saturday. Egbunu, meanwhile, did not travel with UF.
“Maybe one of the guys with a knee issue will surprise us and be able to help us here soon,” White said.
The loss dropped White to 3-1 all-time against Ole Miss, his alma mater. “It’s different to come here, your alma mater,” White said. “It’s a great environment here. I thought both teams battled.” … Former Gator and current Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons attended the game and sat behind UF’s bench. … The loss dropped the Gators to 2-1 in true road games this season. … Ole Miss guard Deandrae Burnett, a Miami transfer and Miami Gardens native, scored 20 points against the Gators. Burnett said he’s been mentored by former Gator player and graduate assistant coach Major Parker. “Just growing up in ninth grade, he was coaching an AAU team and came to my high school one day and introduced himself to me,” Burnett said. “Since my ninth-grade year he’s been working me out and been kind of a big brother and a mentor that I needed throughout my life.”