Notebook: UF unable to sustain 3-point defense in Vandy loss

Vanderbilt guard Payton Willis, left, drives against Florida guard Mike Okauru in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Florida entered its matchup with Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon with a goal to clamp down and defend the 3-point line.

The Gators did it for a half, but ultimately gave up too many open looks from beyond the arc in the second half. Vanderbilt took advantage, shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range in the second half and 40.9 percent from 3-point range for the game in its 71-68 win over the Gators.

Florida went ahead 60-51 on a 3-pointer from Egor Koulechov with 7:34 remaining before Vanderbilt sank 3-pointers on three of its next four offensive possessions. Joe Toye’s 3-pointer from the top of the key cut Florida’s lead to 60-54. Then, Florida senior point guatd Chris Chiozza was caught behind a screen, which allowed Riley LaChance to sink a wide-open 3-pointer that cut UF’s lead to 60-57 with 6:19 left.

LaChance then hit a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound by freshman point guard Saben Lee to tie the score at 62 with 5:04 left.

“He’s really good and we can’t allow those back off 3s that he shoots,” Florida coach Mike White said. “And so we’re trying to make them bounce the basketball and Vandy was trying to make us bounce the basketball. When you don’t have a rotation or you have a late rotation you are worried about your guy scoring on you as opposed to you rotating …

“Some of it becomes fatigue in the second half and some if it just a lack of discipline and that’s on me.”

Florida redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone said the inability to guard the 3-point line effectively in the second half came down to lack of communication.

“We didn’t follow the scouting report on some plays,” Stone said. “Just little things.”

Navigating foul trouble

Florida once again had a tough time defending without fouling. The Gators were whistled for 11 fouls in the second half and 16 for the game. Koulechov and Florida junior forward KeVaughn Allen were each saddled with four fouls.

Koulechov was whistled for his fourth foul at the 7:17 mark after a flurry of three 3-pointers, the third of which put Florida up 60-51 with 7:34 left.

“I’ve got to be more accountable,” Koulechov said. “My teammates expect me to be out there. I wasn’t there. I picked up a silly foul. That’s on me. It’s on all of us to be locked in for 40 minutes and not 27 minutes a game. We’ve got to do better.”

LaChance picked up his fourth foul for Vanderbilt with 7:47 left in the game, but with the Commodores reeling, Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew elected to have him return to the game 30 seconds later at the 7:17 mark. Florida went at LaChance on a number of occasions trying to draw his fifth foul, and senior point guard Chris Chiozza scored a few baskets down the stretch as a result.

White subbed Koulechov back in at the 4:51 mark, but said he wasn’t wrestling bringing the grad transfer back into the game earlier.

“Just kind of evaluating every possession,” White said. “As long as we were getting decent ones offensively, decent looks, I was trying to buy as much time as possible.”


Chiozza, a Memphis native, finished with 6 points, 6 assists and 0 turnovers in the first of two return games to his home state. Chiozza has failed to score in double figures in four of five February games for the Gators. … Freshman center Isaiah Stokes did not make the trip with the Gators due to the flu, while freshman forward Chase Johnson made the trip and did not play. … Sophomore center Gorjok Gak did not play for the Gators (coach’s decision). … Florida and Vanderbilt finished an even 31-31 on the boards, though Vanderbilt outrebounded the Gators 18-17 in the second half. Florida grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and converted them into 15 second-chance points. … Stone’s 20 points were his most since scoring a career-high 23 points at Ole Miss on Jan. 13.



  1. One of the problems the Gators have defending the 3 pt shot is that they have no center that they can rely upon so they have to switch off and double in the lane leaving outside shooters free. Neither Hayes or Gak really have the bulk and strength to be left alone. They each get pushed around. Bassett seems to be stronger, but is still green.

  2. I see no fire in White during games, will be interesting to hear from former players on how his practice demeanor is, not looking for a Bobby Knight personality, but one who isn’t afraid to let his players know who is in charge and will kick some butt now and then, I don’t see it in this guy.

  3. MW has done a terrible job coaching this year! This team has talent even though undersized and was ranked in the top 10 to start the season. The majority of there loses this year are to inferior teams squandering double digit leads. Its painful to see the execution late in games like the failed inbounds pass last weak and fouling a player yesterday with 5 seconds left on the shot clock. Also, everyone watching that game yesterday could see Lachance was the only one who can beat you and he was left wide open for 3’s almost every time in the second half. This team is not mentally strong when it maters and that is on the coach.

    With 2 NIT’s in 3 years and no good recruits in the pipeline this looks like it could be another bad hire by Foley.

    • NINE losses this season when Florida was FAVORED! No other Div. 1 coach comes close. They might be able to fire him with cause as I think the s o b is really 27, not the age he claims. The puke is under contract ’til 2023 and that nearly causes me to choke. You’re wrong about the recruits — at least two are very promising.

  4. Welcome to the club Kevin Patrick. This is what I have been saying for a couple of months. Mike White’s dad and brother are both athletic directors and Mike needs to follow in their footsteps. They say that teams reflect the personality of their coach and this team has No passion and No heart. On the bench he projects the perfect demeanor for a young up and coming athletic director and his team plays like a room full of coordinators.
    I am so tired of hearing coach and players say the same exact things after every loss and they finish each sentence with “and that’s on me.” Well that’s great. We have mastered the diagnostic phase of the process. The bad news is now you have to actually change something……….. or maybe, just maybe, Stricklin will eventually change something for you. Unfortunately, it will be after we have missed a couple of really good seasons.
    But I am probably wrong and coach will make major changes this week. You know like maybe start Okauru instead of Allen for the first five minutes of the game…………Yeah, that will fix it.
    Here is one change I will recommend. Can Nick Savage take over the training responsibility for this team?
    This is a soft, uninspired team and everything needs to change.

  5. Sure defending the three is an issue, but in the past our team would respond offensively as well. This team was to be stocked with offense, but we still don’t have anybody who can actually drive and score. No center is a big issue as well. I am beginning to believe that coaching is also an issue, but since last year these things did not happen I think players are also the issue.

    • Coaching is an issue. The percentage is high based on visual and statistical analysis. The team has major flaws with respect to focused defense, paint scoring and versatility on offense. They collectively lack heart and aggression attributable to coaching.

    • This will be different next year, chiozza will be gone so we will score less. This team does not run any offense, if the game is not run in transition, their half court offense has no movement, no creativity and it’s all based around beating your man 1 on 1 for a drive to the hoop or a fade a way 3

  6. Let’ see, Coach White was a genius last year and now he’s a dunce? Pretty amazing. Hate to think it has anything to do with players and their skills and decision making. Hate to think fatigue actually affects performance. Hate to think lack of three quality big guys in the rotation makes a difference. Hate to think you know-it-alls actually know what you’re talking about.

    • Hate to think that you are still on this rag about what Coach White did last year. Hate to think that you wouldn’t take your time and learn the facts about last year. Hate to think that you don’t know that last year he won with inherited players and transfers. Hate to think that you don’t know that this year he is actually coaching on his dime, playing with players that he picked and the results leave a lot to be desired. Hate to think that you don’t know that the mess he has this team in, will be felt for a while. Would like to know how you feel about who he is going to beat with 7 guards and no strength in the middle for the next couple of years. Hate to think that he was given such a long contract, and how much we will lose to get rid of him. So I hope he lives to your expectations for the sake Of the University