Gators considering changes after home loss to Alabama

Florida guards Egor Koulechov and Chris Chiozza sit on the beach in dejection Saturday after getting blown out by Alabama at the O'Connell Center. The Gators led 33-27 at halftime, but shot poorly in the second half and lost 68-50 to the Crimson Tide. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

For Florida players and coaches, trying to explain the latest meltdown, a 68-50 loss to Alabama before 10,845 at the O’Connell Center, was a vexing task.

In the first half, the No. 23 Gators played an inspired 20 minutes of basketball, forcing 14 turnovers to take a 33-27 lead into the break.

Then came a second half in which all of UF’s flaws were exposed. The Gators were beaten up on the boards, allowed too many easy transition baskets and too many points in the paint. Combine that with shooting just 22.6 percent in the second half and it added up to Florida suffering its worst loss to Alabama since falling 83-63 on March 4, 1989.

Florida (15-8, 6-4 SEC) has now lost three of four, three straight conference games and two consecutive league home games. The Gators scored a season-low 50 points and appear to be regressing offensively after scoring 100 or more points in four of their first six games.

“If we don’t make wholesale changes we’re going to continue to have peaks and valleys,” Florida coach Mike White said. “We’re just going to be average.”

What changes can be made?

“We may need to even evaluate lineups, maybe evaluate what we do in practice,” White said. “But the defensive performance we gave in the second half is very discouraging to say the least.”

Florida grad transfer Egor Koulechov took it a step further, suggesting the reeling Gators are a team that needs to learn to trust one another again.

“We have to trust each other right now,” Koulechov said. “There’s a little bit there with that, but it’s all fixable. We tend to go down play a little hero ball sometimes, take some bad shots. It’s nothing we can’t fix. We just have to buy in, lock in better, keep working.”

Nothing worked in the final 20 minutes. Alabama made a quick 8-0 run to start the second half, taking a 35-33 lead on a steal and layup by redshirt sophomore guard Dazon Ingram. Then, after Koulechov tied the score at 43 with a bank shot with 11:56 left, Alabama took control of the game with an 11-0 run, fueled by a pair of baskets from freshman forward Herb Jones, a 3-pointer from Avery Johnson Jr., a driving layup by point guard Collin Sexton and an inside basket by Braxton Key.

Koulechov said the Gators deviated from the defensive gameplan in the second half.

“We don’t buy in to what we’re trying to do right now,” Koulechov said. “We had a good gameplan coming in, and we did pretty much everything the opposite way.”

Alabama (15-8, 6-4 SEC) shot 58.1 percent from the field in the second half and 55.8 percent from the field for the game.

“My team, when we’re playing with a lead and when we’re making shots, we defend at a different level,” White said. “There’s no excuse for that. We’re in February doing the same thing. It’s really unfortunate.”

Junior guard KeVaughn Allen led three UF scorers in double figures with 16 points, with redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone adding 12 points and Koulechov scoring 11 points.

White went with a smaller lineup to start the game, going with Stone at center and four guards — Allen, Koulechov, point guard Chris Chiozza and junior guard Jalen Hudson.

“Coming off a game in which we struggled to score (at Georgia), I think the ultimate decision was to try to play our best offensive lineup,” White said.

The strategy worked early as the Gators scrapped defensively with the smaller lineup as well. Chiozza had four of UF’s eight steals in the first half, and the Gators scored 15 points off 14 turnovers in the first half.

Eventually, though, Alabama wore UF down with its size, strength and length. The Tide outrebounded Florida 43-25 and scored 14 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Alabama outscored Florida 46-26 in the paint, with center Donta Hall and Key combining for five dunks.

Sexton led four Alabama scorers in double figures with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Sexton got the best of his matchup with Chiozza, who had 4 points on 2 of 9 shooting with 4 assists and 4 steals.

Hall added a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, going 7 of 7 from the floor, while Key had 13 points.

Alabama (15-8, 6-4 SEC) bounced back from a loss earlier in the week at home to Missouri with its inspired second half. After committing 14 turnovers in the first half, the Tide had just five in the second half. Alabama also outscored UF 29-1 in bench points.

“Ball movement in the second half was incredible,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said after the Tide’s fourth straight win over a ranked opponent.

“Our bench did an amazing job. So I’m awfully proud of our guys.”

ALABAMA (15-8)

Hall 7-7 0-0 14, Giddens 0-2 0-0 0, Sexton 7-15 1-2 17, Petty 0-2 0-0 0, Ingram 4-7 0-3 8, Key 5-7 2-2 13, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 2-4 2-2 6, A.Johnson 4-8 1-3 10. Totals 29-52 6-12 68.

FLORIDA (15-8)

Stone 4-9 3-4 12, Chiozza 2-9 0-1 4, Koulechov 5-10 0-0 11, Allen 5-12 3-3 16, Hudson 3-10 0-0 6, Bassett 0-0 0-0 0, Hayes 0-2 0-1 0, Gak 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0, Okauru 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 19-57 7-11 50.

Halftime_Florida 33-27. 3-Point Goals_Alabama 4-13 (Sexton 2-5, A.Johnson 1-2, Key 1-3, Ingram 0-1, Petty 0-2), Florida 5-24 (Allen 3-7, Stone 1-3, Koulechov 1-4, Ballard 0-1, Okauru 0-2, Chiozza 0-3, Hudson 0-4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Alabama 37 (Hall 11), Florida 24 (Hayes, Stone 5). Assists_Alabama 12 (Sexton 6), Florida 9 (Chiozza 4). Total Fouls_Alabama 12, Florida 13. A_10,845 (10,133).





  1. Remember back at the beginning of the season when talking head analysts were predicting Florida as a lock for the final four because of their hot shooting and close loss to Duke; now everyone knows the formula against the Gators, defend the perimeter, because UF has no inside threats. Florida is now officially a bubble team, leaning towards an NIT invitation. Nothing much Mike White can do, he has no big men to dump the ball inside to, and the remaining schedule only gets tougher. Egbunu isn’t the answer either, he was never an offensive threat, in fact, the Gators did better after he went down last year with his injury. Football mediocrity has infected the basketball program.

  2. Mike White has to go. He is not a quality hire. Look at the freshmen he has brought in. Look at the graduate transfers. Why? They have no offensive plays. They were told after halftime by Coach White we have lost our minds. That is great coaching Mr. Ego. Any one hear that on national TV? Any one see what happened next? These guys have lost all confidence under the ex elite eight coach Mr Coach White the wonderful!!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!
    Heck, anyone ever see Miami Vice? UF was beaten by the Noogman, Nugart Neville Lamont look and sound alike coaching Alabama.

  3. Like I said last week, NIT!!!! Houston we have a problem and it won’t be fixed this year. I say 12-13 L’s for the year. Exciting week coming up for football and yes it will baseball and softball season soon!

  4. This team has too many guys who take too many bad shots (Egor, Hudson, Allen, Ballard). Egor takes the most ridiculously bad shots of all. Why did White pick him up? I appreciate the fact that many of the bigs are hurt, but we are hurt more by bad shots and poor shooting than by being dominated inside. That second half was pathetic.

  5. Pathetic. This team is toast. No heart. No guts. No fight. What a sorry bunch. I can’t watch a team that gives no effort and just rolls over and dies. Its time to re=think my belief in the coach as well. If he can’t get these guys to play hard, he needs to go as well.

  6. Another deplorable coaching by White and his puppets. Quote from White at halftime: I don’t care if they shoot 10 air balls if they can continue to play defense.” Well, White, something you may not be aware of but you have to score to win. What an idiot. Today’s game continues to show us that Florida has a weak defense and no direction on offense. “Dribble and shoot the 3.” As I said at the beginning of the season, White needs to stay out of the locker room at halftime because whatever he says completely destroys the players in the second half. White’s only grand stand is his back-door to the Elite 8 last year. If it wasn’t for Chiozza’s lucky shot at the end of the Wisconsin game, of which UF lost a comfortable lead in the second half, White would not have a claim to excellence, which he and apparently the AD who gave him a raise believe he has. If you cannot recruit, you cannot win — this is true for any sport.

  7. White should shoulder some of the blame for this soft as hell team. His demeanour on the court reflects his team effort. They have extreme difficulty rebounding and playing consistent defense. Hayes is garbage. They were linked st home for the fourth time.

  8. This was tough to take. I’m not willing to give up on the team completely, but there’s no excuse for the lack of effort in the second half. They’re at a turning point where they’ll have to dig deep to salvage their season, or I’m afraid many more losses will come.

    • I agree completely with you Joe. Everyone clamoring for White to be fired just need to shut their traps. They’re probably the same people that called for Billy D’s firing when they went out in 2-3 straight NCAA first weekends, and then what happened….he brought the unthinkable to Florida with Back-to-Back championships. Step back from the ledge and just deal with it. The team is at a major turning point in the season, as is a lot of other teams. Hopefully they are able to figure out what they are going to need to do get over this hump like they did after their post-Portland slump.

      • Yeah, Mike White can’t go out on the court and make shots himself. Just a couple of games ago the team was shooting 39% from 3 point range, and five players were shooting 40% or better. I thought with so many capable shooters they’d always have one or two with a hot hand, but that hasn’t been the case lately. They’re in a major 3 point shooting slump.

        Coach White had a good strategy with Stone going inside early and often with good success, but he missed a couple at the rim in the second half and that was that. Many on here have insisted that Hudson should be starting, and they got what they wanted today, with the end result being absolutely no productivity from the bench. Hayes had no points. Maybe White new what he was doing there after all.

        Coach White has to be frustrated with the poor shooting bleeding over into poor defense. There’s still time for this team, but they have to turn it around fast.

      • They are the exact same bunch…no doubt. You have to give guys some time. I saw a post that said “if Chiozza didn’t make the 3…he would have no claim to excellence…” Cmon man , but HE…so if Mike Miller doesn’t make his game winner against Butler.” then what? I am all for coaches earning their stripes, but this knee jerk reaction season to season, game to game is dumb, especially off an elite 8 year. Billy D did not leave after 2013’s final 4 run. He left with a poor shooting team returning and no real names. The injuries and the grad xfer are not working out as planned is hurting minutes are goingto guys that may not be ready. Still more season left. Wins against Gonzaga , Cincy, Mizzou, and UK will matter too.

  9. Knowledgeable Gator Basketball fans get it: this team has little big men, with little to no back-ups either.
    And when U.F. isn’t shooting well, usually it’s over for them in a game. Commenters may comment here about their play and effort, but the crap talk about Coach White is so out there. Those who see in reality, know that Coach White is coaching! But some don’t know better than to question his coaching skills.
    They forget (or have NO CLUE) that Coach White, in his 1st 2 years in the SEC, has the most wins ever (for SEC coaches other than U.K. coaches) ranked 4th in total. So, come on Gators, get up…
    and get a damn calendar! It’s Feb. 3rd, that’s only 600 hours left in this month before the boys go home for the year, and the men go to a real tourney!

  10. Gator recruits under White whom Billy D did not recruit before he left.
    Justin Leon–JC Transfer–Good recruit
    Eric Hester—transferred after 1 year.
    Gak—Not an SEC player
    Bassett-Very raw
    Chase Johnson-hurt
    Okarau 8 for 31 in SEC play
    Ballard 6 for 20 in SEC play
    Transfers: Barry:Great pickup. Egor and Hudson–Very inconsistent. Up and Down.
    Two highly regarded guard coming in next year. No big men.

    No impact players from players recruited out of high school unless one of the freshmen develop.

  11. Florida was punked at home for the fourth time. These guys have no heart. Where did they come from? The offensive skeem sucks. The miniature guard is shady at best. The team is regressing and my soon lose confidence if not already. Sickening display of basketball.

  12. To the people posting that Mike White should be fired. His team went to the elite eight just last last year, has three of its best inside game players (Egbunu, Stokes, and Johnson) sitting on the bench injured, and has a great recruiting class coming in next year. So, please, show more intelligence or just go away. But they are certainly not a very good team this year with the three injured and when the shooters can’t shoot very well. 17 points in the second half was really, really bad and the low point of the year for sure.

    • Thank you Rick for some level of sensibility. What I’m seeing from these ‘Gator Fans’ is just disgusting. Who has no heart? It’s you guys – who will give up on and so maliciously criticize a team that is trying but struggling. Would you be this way if it were your kids basketball team? No – you’d be supportive because that’s what people who support do. But instead you think it’s okay to lambast a team that is struggling right now, as if a few games define who these kids are.
      Coach White is an intelligent guy, who has shown us that he can coach – but he can’t perform magic. So let him figure it out with the team – your mindless reactivity does nothing for anyone but allow you to vent your immaturity onto a public space. There’s a line in our “We are the Boys” – that we stick together in all kinds of weather. Heart? Yeah… Go Gators! (Class of ’95)

    • Some of these anti-White posters seem to be the same person who pops up under different handles after every so-so game. Most knowledgeable Gator BB fans are happy to have White, who will get better along with his teams.

      I suspect the team is tiring of playing without a big man or two … everyone thought late January and now nothing.

    • Last year we made it to the final eight, Thanks to a Cheez miracle shot and White has won a lot of games, that makes him a good coach?, BS. he made it with leftover players and transfers. This year when his clock really started ticking and is playing with players he recruited or transferred into the program and the results have been less than grand, And what is there to expect next year? well lets see, Cheez will be gone, Egbunu will be gone, tri-gor will be gone. That essentially will leave us the same guys playing this year plus he managed to recruit us 2 guards and a small forward, 1 6’2″, 1 6’4″ and 1 6’5″ there is not a center in sight until ‘2019/20. You can not compete in the SEC without height, Let’s face it this a business, you get paid to produce and under White the future doesn’t look to bright.

  13. I have to agree with all of the above, what a sorry display!. I shut-off the game at the 6 minute mark in the second half, same type of play in the Georgia game was happening again. It seems the other team knows exactly what we can do, take all we have to give in the first half. In the second half neutralize what little we have to offer, and just like that , GAME OVER!!. White, a teacher he is not, doesn’t know how to calm this team, the team hits a wall at certain point of the game, and he has not a clue on how to stop the bleeding and get the team back in the game. And worst of all he can’t recruit, you can not compete in the SEC with 6-4 or 6-5 guys and expect to get anywhere, and that’s all he has managed to recruit for our next class. It is very distressful to watch this team being manhandled by teams we are supposed to beat and that goes with the coach!!

  14. They just have no intensity, no toughness in any aspect of the game. I get frustrated by how many times Hayes drops the ball do they not work on hand strength? The players we have we must play a helter skelter type of ball, when they slow it down its two-three dribbles and launch a three. Why dont we use a press to get them more in the game?

    • Ron:

      It’s so funny you said this. As physical as K Hayes is, my cousin, who lives in G’ville and has followed Gator BBall religiously since Norm Sloan, has told me for the last 2 months that Hayes has the hands of a 7 year old girl. I think he leads the team in missed dunks. He was so good in the NCAA tournament last year, I don’t get what has happened to him..

  15. They can’t shoot. This isn’t on Mike White. Give him a break. We have no bigs, and our guys for some reason become middle school YMCA shooters in the second half. He can’t put the ball in the basket for them.

    Rumor has it that Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmier were in the arena today.

    They aren’t going to the tournament. At this rate, they won’t win 20 games.

  16. These repugnant sissies wanted to play in NIT anyway, so all is is not lost, Gator fans.
    Think how nice it will be when they are home in the first round against New Jersey Institute before an enthusiastic crowd of 1,250!

  17. Followed the Gators closely since the Maxwell/Moten days and am pretty certain that this team is the softest, mentally weakest (by far) in that period. It’s stunning that Miss White keeps giving the same minutes to the same misfits. Hope that some (frosh) that should have played more transfer. Again, I think the AD is so consumed with football, that bb is an afterthought. As I posted before, White is the worst coach in the SEC. No other coach in the conference, with Florida’s players, would be 15-8 now. Suggestion for Miss White: If she loses the LSU game, get extra security getting to your car afterwards.

  18. If the AD isn’t concerned, he doesn’t give a s–t! Seven losses as favorites is beyond the pale. Someone posted earlier that a “real” coach is needed. Agreed, let’s get a man in there, not a boy. Miss White will be able to a find job in Div. III.

    • bf – not quite true. Mike White at least tries to actively coach where MacFail didn’t get off his fatazz the entire time he was soaking up millions in Gainesville. White was a basketball player and seems to know the game, maybe psychology courses are what he needs to figure his team out. MacFail didn’t know how to do his job and after 2.5 years he knew the jig was up – Stricklin, Gator Nation and even Foley had realized he was a fraud that could not deliver. That’s when he took the first bus out of Gainesville.

  19. Funny that Egor mentioned that bad shots were a big problem. Yes, guy, you have that right — you are the biggest offender! Redundant, sorry, but want to point out the difference between a fake coach and a real coach. LOSSES this season as a FAVORITE: Mike White 7, Tony Bennett (Va.) 0

  20. Good evening Mr. Mullen. Are you getting all this? Your mission should you choose to accept it is to win national championships. Should you lose games that you are expected to win, like to Kentucky, Vanderbilt, or any of the out of conference cupcakes, or lose 3 consecutive times to our rivals like Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, and FSU, your precious Gator Nation will disavow you, your staff, and your players and self destruct within 5 seconds. Good luck Mr. Mullen.

  21. Hey Captain Obvious, I mean Coach White – of course changes need to be made. Should’ve been made a long time ago. Starting with how you coach. Whatever changes are done now will be too late to salvage what was once a promising season. This Gator basketball team is a joke.

  22. Think this Gator team would be sitting 15-8 with Bruce Pearl right now? Of course not, they’d be something like 20-3! It’s simply the difference between a fake coach and a real coach. Does Brockway know Florida’s liability to White if they fired him after this season? Going to church shortly and I will pray that White is done.

  23. Wednesday Florida will be a solid favorite at home against LSU. They will lose — Michelle White’s EIGHTH LOSS this season as a favorite. EIGHT! Shortly afterwards, his defenders will come in and post about how good a coach she is and that she just doesn’t have the horses this year. Making excuses for White is getting maddening, okay?!

  24. 10 things that make all Gators mad thinking about (in no particular order):

    1. Fourth and Dumb (1976):
    2. Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott (1980):
    3. 21 hits on Danny Wuerffel by FSU, 12 of which were late hits that weren’t called (1996):
    4. Choke at Doak (1994)
    5. Officiating in 2003 Florida-FSU game
    6. Travis Henry (2001)
    7. Georgia Southern (2013)
    8. Losing to Michigan State (2000)
    9. The 2017 Football Season
    10. Going from a 5 seed to the NIT (2018)

    The common theme? THEY ALL HAPPENED DURING THE LIFETIME OF JIM MCELWAIN. Coincidence? Discuss amongst yourselves..

  25. What is the recruiting strategy for this team, and who makes the recruiting decisions?. There are 7 guards on this team, we are losing 2 (Chioza and Egor), leaving us 5 for next year, needing some big men, why do we waste 3 scholarships on two more guards and a 6’5″ small forward instead of going for the big men we need and will need in the future. There was no assurance that Egbunu was going to be able to play this year and he was not that big of an offensive weapon anyway. Gak still has not shown he can compete in the SEC. Hopefully he proves me wrong because for the next two years unless we get a walk on, he is the man.

  26. I get the frustration about recruiting, but let’s think about this. This is basketball. One sensational recruit can turn an average team into a final four team. It does not work that way in football. In addition, the kid you get as a freshman may be very different than the kid you get as a junior or a senior. Do you like what John Calipari does better? I will admit I am a Gator who likes Coach Cal a lot. I think he has balls for recruiting the way he does. So let’s offer him the job in Gainesville. I am sure he will come running. Just like Nick Saban would die to coach UF Football. Get off of it guys. White is a great young coach. Stop comparing him to a guy who didn’t want to be here anymore (Billy D). Who do you honestly think we could get, who would actually come here, who would be a better coach than MW? I get the anger about McElwain, we could have had 10 or 20 coaches more qualified than he was. But who do you you think as a basketball coach would have come to Gainesville with better upside? Bruce Pearl? Great coach, I prefer not to be on probation for the next 5 years..

    • CJ, sorry, but I can’t agree with you, basketball is a team sport. When you recruit you at all times must recruit with the team in mind. You are right that one super recruit may change the fortunes of any team, but that only happens if you have the other pieces in place to complement the gifted player (EG> Oklahoma, Take care of TRAE and the team is very beatable). When we made it to the final eight, we did it because White had players that complemented each other, Barry, Leon, Robinson, Egbunu, Rimmer,. The strength of the team was ability, athleticism and HEIGHT needed to match just about any team we played. Somewhere the idea of replacing that height was lost and we started recruiting guards. You can not win in the SEC, matter of fact you won’t win anywhere without height. There is were we are today with the guards, we rain threes, if they go in we win if they don’t, we lose because we don’t have an inside game. that’s the way it is now and will be in the near future.
      Look I don’t know about others, but I am not clamoring for a coach change, I know we can’t win every time we go out. But I do believe that our goal should always be to represent our great university well. The university is paying good money to these coaches to see that this happens, but somewhere down the line we have lost the art of recruiting, the sooner we face that fact, the better we will be. By the way I see football under Mullen is doing a great job!!!. GO GATORS!!!!