No. 23 Gators wilt down the stretch in loss at Georgia

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Florida guard Egor Koulechov goes to the basket Tuesday against Georgia forward Nicolas Claxton in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATHENS, Ga. — With January winding down, the 2017-18 Florida men’s basketball season is at a crossroads.

The No. 23 Gators continued their recent trend of letdown losses after big wins with a numbing 72-60 loss at Georgia which displayed flaws, that, given the current state of the roster, aren’t going to be easy to fix.

Florida was outmuscled, out-hustled and out of sync in a dismal offensive display in the final 10  minutes. After a 3-pointer by Jalen Hudson put Florida ahead 51-48 with 10:49 left, the Gators went the next 9:42 without a basket during an 18-2 run by Georgia that put the game way. By the time redshirt sophomore Keith Stone hit a 3-pointer with 1:07 left to cut Georgia’s lead to 66-56, it was far too little, far too late.

“They played much better D in the second half,” Florida senior guard Egor Koulechov said. “We couldn’t stop them down the stretch. The big plays, the loose balls, the big buckets, they made them.

“It’s the same stuff. We let our offense affect our defense,”

The roller-coaster season for Florida continues. Last week, Florida followed up its first win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena since 2014 with a home loss to South Carolina. This week, Florida followed up a 21-point win over Baylor with its first loss to Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum since 2015.

“It’s on us,” Koulechov said. “It’s a decision that’s got to come from us players when enough is enough, kind of draw a line in the sand. It’s going to have to come down to that.”

During Georgia’s game-deciding 18-2 run, Florida missed 14 straight shots. The first five came on 3-point attempts as Florida settled for deep shots late in the shot clock rather than attack the basket. Florida got the foul line just six times, making five.

“The whole game I was on our guys to try to get to the foul line,” Florida coach Mike White said. “We can’t rely on making 20 threes. First of all, they were running us off the line. We’ve gotta drive through contact, we’ve got to get to the foul line.”

Senior point guard Chris Chiozza blamed himself for over dribbling on some possessions down the stretch.

“We got stagnant,” Chiozza said.

Chiozza led the Gators (15-7, 6-3 SEC) with 15 points and six assists, while Koulechov added 13 points. The Gators shot just 36.5 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from 3-point range (9-26) in their lowest scoring game since falling 65-59 to Loyola-Chicago on Dec. 6. Georgia entered the matchup leading the SEC in both scoring defense (66.1 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (38.7).

“Defensively, I thought they wore us down both halves,” White said.

Georgia took the lead for good, 52-51, on an inside basket by Derek Ogbeide with 10 minutes remaining. A three-point play by senior Georgia forward Yante Maten then put Georgia up 55-51 with 6:48 left to go.

Florida cut Georgia’s lead to 57-53 on a pair of free throws from Koulechov, but Maten came up big for the Bulldogs again, sinking an open 3-pointer to put Georgia up 60-53 with 4:54 to go.

Maten led Georgia (13-8, 4-5 SEC) with 20 points and seven rebounds, while point guard William Jackson II added 16 points.

The Gators made 4 of their first 7 3-point attempts and jumped to an early 24-18 lead. But Georgia was able to stay in the game with its ability to grab offensive rebounds and create second-chance opportunities. For the game, Georgia outrebounded Florida 44-35, scoring 11 second-chance points in the first half and 16 for the game.

“We didn’t come close to matching their physicality,” White said. “They let us know this game was very important to them. They beat us to loose balls, they were tougher, they were more physical, they played with more edge than we did.”

Spurred by 3-pointers from Tyree Crump, Juwan Parker and Jackson and an inside dunk from Maten, Georgia went on an 11-0 first half run to take a 33-26 lead. The Bulldogs led 37-29 late in the first half on a pair of Maten free throws, but Chiozza sank a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left in the first half to cut Georgia’s lead to 37-32 at halftime.

In the second half, White started with a smaller lineup, going with guards Chiozza, Koulechov, KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson with Kevarrius Hayes at center. The move sparked the Gators, who started the second half on a 12-2 to take a 44-39 lead on a dunk by Allen.

But momentum shifted again for Georgia when backup forward Nicolas Claxton came up with an offensive rebound off a Georgia miss. Claxton then kicked the ball out to Jackson, who hit an open 3-pointer to cut UF’s lead to 44-41.

With senior center John Egbunu not even making the trip and not yet recovered from a torn ACL, the Gators will need to make due with what they have collectively rebounding inside. On Tuesday night, the effort wasn’t enough to overcome UF’s lack of size inside.

“I’m just disappointed,” White said. “We’ve shown more fight than that. To be dominated on the glass like that to start the game when that’s the biggest point of emphasis by far and away coming into this one, I thought we gave them some confidence that they could shoot and go get it. And also gave their shooters confidence that if they miss it, there’s going to be a 50-50 chance we’re going to get the rebound anyway.”

GEORGIA 72, No. 23 FLORIDA 60
FLORIDA (15-7)

Stone 2-6 0-0 5, Hayes 2-4 1-1 5, Chiozza 6-13 0-0 15, Koulechov 4-10 4-5 13, Allen 4-11 0-0 9, Bassett 0-1 0-0 0, Gak 2-3 0-0 4, Hudson 3-14 0-0 9, Ballard 0-1 0-0 0, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-63 5-6 60.

GEORGIA (13-8)

Ogbeide 2-4 0-1 4, Wilridge 0-1 0-0 0, Maten 7-14 5-5 20, Parker 4-10 2-2 12, Jackson 4-10 6-6 16, Claxton 2-4 0-2 5, Edwards 0-2 0-0 0, Hammonds 1-6 0-0 2, Harris 1-2 5-6 7, Crump 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 23-58 18-22 72.

Halftime_Georgia 37-32. 3-Point Goals_Florida 9-26 (Hudson 3-6, Chiozza 3-7, Koulechov 1-3, Stone 1-4, Allen 1-5, Ballard 0-1), Georgia 8-25 (Crump 2-4, Parker 2-5, Jackson 2-8, Claxton 1-1, Maten 1-3, Harris 0-1, Wilridge 0-1, Hammonds 0-2). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 33 (Koulechov 7), Georgia 39 (Claxton 8). Assists_Florida 8 (Chiozza 6), Georgia 11 (Parker 3). Total Fouls_Florida 20, Georgia 14.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Awful officiating + awful Gator shoting = BIG FAT ‘L’!
    However, the SE.C. league office must’ve told the refs to ruin any Gator offensive fluidity and help the leg-humping Bulldogs anyway they could… and they did, all night! As UGA needs all the help they can to get to the NCAA tourney, ’cause they can’t get there on their own!

    • Gators only get to the line 6 times, while outscored 13 points from the line by UGA; both teams made 23 FGs, while Florida made one more 3 than UGA; Gators outrebounded AGAIN!!! This is easily the most inconsistent and frustrating teams to watch, 6 more losses is more of a probability than a possibility. Can you say bubble team?!

  2. Great game plan by Georgia, executed well except for the first few minutes of the 2nd half. Good defense of the perimeter by the leg humpers. They took it inside all night long and crashed the boards, using size to their advantage.

    You have to play well on the road in the SEC to get a win. Not tonight in Athens for the Gators.

  3. There is no need to blame the officiating, this Gator team just can’t defend the paint, gets frustrated to easily. lose our poise and play like a school yard pick up team. lCoach White should had called time outs when the team started throwing crazy shots and calm the team down. there were some bad calls of course, which should be always expected when you play away from home, but when you are a good team and a favorite to win,you take those calls in stride, keep your poise. and play on. We got beaten because we lost our poise. Have nobody to blame but ourselves. I don’t know what the answer is and I am beginning to doubt that coach White does either. One thing is for sure, we do not belong in the top 25, with this loss, we should drop out of sight. And we deserve it!

  4. Can you say NIT!!!!! We will probably lose another 4-5 games! Very disappointing to watch these type of games. I think coach White truly doesn’t know how to get the effort from this team to consistently win. Watched first ten minutes and saw how we couldn’t stop Georgia’s second chance points. I can’t watch these games unless I know they are up big.

    • UGA got every bounce possible in the first half. They had at least 8 offensive rebounds from getting lucky bounces, in the first half alone The officiating was absolutely laughable. Obvioisly playing on the road with such a riled up crowd is going to affect officials, but this was just beyond ridiculous.

  5. No strength inside at all on defense or offense. With the inability to score in the paint you live by the 3 and die by the 3. As we have seen over the past few games that is exactly the case. Tonight, another loss because we have nothing inside and died by the 3. It is going to be very hard for us to put together wins down the stretch, in the SEC tournament and in the (hopefully) NCAA tournament, without strength inside, which we don’t have and with all due respect to Egbunu, he cannot do it all by himself if he comes back at anywhere near 100%

  6. Pathetic! We are clearly outmatched inside again and Coach White refuses to play our two biggest guys at the same time i.e, Hayes and Gak who I know has issues or w/ Ballard or go to a zone with these guys as Stone is more of a 3-4 and at least try it for a few minutes and if it doesn’t work switch back but we are getting killed inside so you have to try it! Frustrating to watch like our offense is going to win every game and have Koulechov consistently defend a guy 3-4 inches taller than him – it’s not realistic and makes no sense as doesn’t your leading scorer Hudson not starting – that’s ridiculous!

  7. Very hard team to watch. The Gators got knocked around like rag dolls. Opposing players go through Hayes like a knife going through butter.
    The offense waits until the last 10 seconds of the shot clock before anything happens. Players stand around and the guards dribble the ball until about 10 seconds are left. The shots are not that good.

    How many SEC head basketball coaches is Mike White better than after his 3rd year in the league. Florida has been a top 2 program in the SEC for the last 20 years, but does not even have a top 10 coach in the league.

      • Frank Martin-2nd best coach in SEC. Took a terrible program to the Final Four last year and has owned White, since has been at Florida. White has lost to six unranked teams this year. The offense normally does not start until late in the shot clock. White has only beat Vandy one time, since has been in SEC.

  8. Don’t blame the refs. Nobody complains about the refs when the Gators play at home. You want to point a finger? Point your finger at our missing in action big men. You know you’ve got issues when your leading rebounder is a 6’5″ 205 lb. graduate transfer guard. The big boys need to start wearing big boy pants.

  9. Simply put, everything went right for UGA. Obvioisly, this wasnt our best game, and even so, we did play well enough to win…UGA shot 22 free throws compared to our 6. Not only do those missed calls cost us missed opportunists at the line, they also tend to create easy transition points for the other team. I still just can’t believe the level of officiating in college basketball.. This one was a joke.

  10. I still have high hopes for this team. IMO, losing Chase Johnson hurt more than we may ever know. He’s a talented and athletic big. He has a decent jumper and can run, defend, and finish above the rim. At the very least, he would have given us another post defender, and would have given our starters a talented and athletic big to defend in practice…Gak can’t even practice, and his conditioning reflects that. With Egbunu Stokes and Johnson out, we just don’t have the depth. Even if Egbunu comes back, I assume he’ll be on a minutes restriction, and our defense will continue to compromised, whether it’s on the perimeter due to collapsing and doubling the post, or on the interior by having to use our 3 guards as primary post defenders. Unless Johnson and Egbunu get healthy fast, we are going to be a streaky team. Not only because of the obvious issues our front court depth presents, but because we CAN’T EVEN SCRIMMAGE IN PRACTICE.

    Despite all that, I still think this team has the potential to get hot and go on real post season run.

  11. Coach White only coaches in games he is fired up for. This team was again unprepared and uninspired just like Ole Miss, South Carolina and now Georgia. Coach you did well last year. Are you so egotistical that you believe you are coaching well this year? NOT!!!!!!! I will give you this one the officiating was sooo bad that the SEC Commissioner should review the game. That being said come down off your cloud. Bench Allen and let Hudson start.

  12. I’m sorry, but what was the point of JE coming back this year? He isn’t going to play. The scholarship could have been used for another post player, especially considering the fact that Stokes was most likely never going to see the court this year either. Sorry, but a wasted scholarship this season.

  13. Coach Miss White strikes again! Sixth loss this year when they were favored and Alabama Saturday will make it seven (only loss as an underdog was Duke). At some point, the Athletic Department is concerned with this, right? White belongs in Div. III — the BoyToy is overmatched in the SEC. Hayes and Stone are like zombies. Allen looks more lost as a junior than as a freshman. Egor and Hudson consistently take bad shots, really bad shots. My God, this just keeps happening and happening! Miss White doesn’t see this?! If nothing else, give a lot more minutes to Ballard, Bassett and Okauru. Also, Chiozza is a very gritty player but not being vocal, he can’t be considered a leader. Florida has no leaders. Transfers are coming, wait and see. Go ahead and laugh but White is at the very bottom of the SEC coaches. Bruce Pearl, a loud-mouthed, “convicted” cheater, would have a maximum of three losses if he coached Florida. You can’t change players, you have change coaches. Anyone know how much Florida would be on the hook if White was axed?

    • Why would White get axed Boyfriend?

      Your Gator Derangement Syndrome seems to be worsening.

      I would be quite concerned with any Gator fan posting under numerous aliases in a Seminole website.

      Go see Dr. Winters. You can thank me later.

    • Let’s not confuse Mac and Zook with White. 16-7 isn’t a record to get fired over. You are just being stupid probably because you beat the woman in your life just like Bobby Bowden condoned with his players. And maybe now your new coach does too.

  14. I saw maybe three minutes of the game, while doing other things around the house, and saw a missed open dunk, a missed layup, and a missed 1 foot follow-up shot after that missed layup, all by the Gators. At that point, I had had enough, knew that another collapse was coming. I have been a Gator fan for almost sixty years, but just can’t watch this team much-it’s too painful! From what I have seen over several games,
    it appears they could be shooting something like 40% from two feet out or less.

  15. Have to agree with just about everything said above, with the exception of I am a fan of Coach White, but this team is a total mess and Big John isn’t what’s wrong. It’s just hard to watch them when they look this bad.

    And are you serious? Almost 10 minutes without a bucket!!!!!! Egor is right – this is totally on the team!