Rough start for Gators in Tallahassee

Florida State's PJ Savoy works against the defense of Florida's KeVaughn Allen during the first half Tuesday in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida men’s basketball team led just once in its season opener at Florida State — and it came in the first 30 seconds on a 3-pointer from freshman Andrew Nembhard.

From there, the Seminoles would turn on the gas and leave ice-cold Florida behind, in the process exposing just how far away the inexperienced Gators are from competing with some of the country’s best.

The No. 17 ’Noles looked the far-superior program in securing an 81-60 win Tuesday over Florida, handing the Gators their fifth-straight loss in the series.

“I’m a little bit shell-shocked, to be honest. I did not see that coming,” UF coach Mike White said. “I would hope our guys are ready to get back in the gym tomorrow and get back to work.”

Seniors KeVaughn Allen and Kevarrius Hayes, expected to carry more responsibility on the offensive end this season, combined for just four points and seven rebounds on 2-for-6 shooting.

Perhaps still shaking off rust from the offseason, both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the early going, although it was the ’Noles who would find the stroke first. FSU’s lead wavered between double and single digits approaching the midway point, but four consecutive free throws by the Seminoles would give Florida’s in-state rival a 31-20 advantage heading into halftime.

Similar to the team’s exhibition a week prior, the Gators struggled to make defensive adjustments at halftime, and the ’Noles capitalized with a 19-6 run over the first 6:30 of the second half to eliminate any notion of a UF comeback.

“It starts with the Seminoles defense. I mean, these guys are tough and long and quick,” White said. “Unbelievably long. And disciplined. And it’s no wonder they had a year like they had last year.”

Deaundrae Ballard scored 13 points off the bench for UF and Nembhard had 12 points. Florida shot just 19 of 53 from the floor and 6 of 24 on 3-point attempts.

P.J. Savoy scored 20 points, making five 3-pointers, and Trent Forrest added 13 points for the Seminoles.

The Gators suffered a season-opening loss for the first time since a 70-61 defeat at the hands of the University of South Florida on Nov. 24, 1990 in what served as former UF coach Lon Kruger’s first game at Florida.

Florida returns to the court Friday in the team’s home opener at 7 p.m. against Charleston Southern (1-0).

“This is on us. We didn’t attack the rim, we didn’t put any pressure on the rim,” senior Jalen Hudson said. “We definitely got to shake it off. Obviously a bad loss, but hopefully we can use it as motivation.”


Stone 2-6 1-2 6, Hayes 2-2 0-1 4, Hudson 3-10 4-5 11, Nembhard 4-8 2-3 12, Allen 0-4 0-0 0, Bassett 0-0 0-0 0, Stokes 0-3 2-4 2, K.Johnson 2-3 0-0 4, Okauru 1-3 2-2 4, Locke 1-6 1-2 4, Ballard 5-9 2-2 13. Totals 20-54 14-21 60.


Koumadje 4-8 1-2 9, Forrest 3-4 6-6 13, Walker 3-7 2-3 10, Mann 3-5 2-3 9, Savoy 5-7 5-8 20, Kabengele 0-1 5-6 5, Gray 1-3 0-0 2, Prieto 0-0 0-0 0, Wilkes 1-2 0-0 2, Miles 0-0 0-0 0, Polite 1-2 2-4 5, Nichols 1-5 1-2 3, Light 0-0 0-0 0, Lindner 0-0 0-0 0, Vassell 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 23-48 24-34 81.

Halftime_Florida St. 31-20. 3-Point Goals_Florida 6-24 (Nembhard 2-4, Locke 1-2, Stone 1-3, Ballard 1-4, Hudson 1-5, Okauru 0-2, Stokes 0-2, Allen 0-2), Florida St. 11-23 (Savoy 5-7, Walker 2-4, Forrest 1-1, Mann 1-1, Polite 1-2, Vassell 1-3, Gray 0-1, Wilkes 0-1, Nichols 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 27 (Stone 7), Florida St. 28 (Mann 9). Assists_Florida 9 (Nembhard 4), Florida St. 11 (Forrest 7). Total Fouls_Florida 26, Florida St. 22. Technicals_Stone, Walker.



  1. This is getting to be really embarrassing. Shooting 44% of your shots from 3 point range and only making 25% of them is a sure fire recipe for getting sand kicked in your face. 3 starters are non factors. This team can’t rebound or shoot. Oh, well. They’ll beat a couple of pansies and will become NBA ready, until they play another big boy.

  2. It’s just the first game – on the road in hostile territory. A lot of first freshmen minutes played in that game.

    Shooting could not have been much worse. Defense isn’t there yet to keep us in it.

    We have a lot of talent and will only get better as the season develops. We just need to play a bit faster and have some shots fall.

      • GatorSteve….come on bro…it’s the first game….let’s relax a little bit. Hudson has shown that he can score and did so in the last tournament. FSU is a returning Elite 8 team. We shot poorly. Off shooting night….they happen. Now Allen is an enigma…what happened to his stroke…but the rest remains to be seen. If we continue…I will cosign…just not after one game

          • It was frustrating to watch and it can be ugly when shots aren’t falling. I thought the bigs that would be added in the rotation would help, but we were owned. Poor shot selection too. BUT losing Chiozza, who was one of the better PGs in college may be a bigger loss that anticipated. Allen….a real head scratcher with his shot…

    • Kev Patrick…I’m not shocked with the loss at all bro, I just thought I’d see a better contest…smh. I guess he is still working out his rotations, but if we are going to play small ball, the big should be Johnson IMO.

  3. The difference Coach is you haven’t realized in basketball you need taller men than you recruit. How long does it take for that to sink in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. When you play a big team you can’t play just one big man down low on offense and expect to win. That’s on Coach White. He didn’t do it 2 years ago but did last year and now this year with this 1 – 4 offense (one big man in the paint and 4 guys on the perimeter) and it’s killing us. Lack of offensive rebounds and lack of ball movement etc. Take one shot and if you miss it most likely no rebounds because only one guy is down low. I’m a firm believer we have enough talent on this team it’s just changing the strategy. Play Hayes and Bassett etc. at the same time. Why Coach White won’t do that is beyond me!

    • Going small though is a nice strategy….see Golden State. The problem with having Hayes being that lone big, is that he cannot bring the other big out on the paint, or use quickness to make him pay…so in that sense I don’t get it. To add insult to injury, if we aren’t making shots…then it’s going to be a tough night. Hayes IMO is not a starting big man…he is an energy guy.

    • It doesn’t appear to me that Bassett is a low-post player. If you want two bigs down low, I would think you would go with Hayes and Stokes. The coach also has to consider how this affects other aspects of the Gators game, however, so it is hard to judge how well this would work from our vantage point. White is not stupid, so I’m sure he has some solid reasons for the choices he made.

      • Bassett had some good games down low last year but yes he’s not really a true low post player but can help. Just like to see coach mix it up a little and try it and if doesn’t work move on to something else or if it does do it when it’s needed. Hayes is an energy guy and since we lacked an inside presence I think you have to play 2 bigger guys just out of necessity part of the time. We had no inside out game on offense due to our lack of inside play.

  5. FSU looks really good because I’m not ready to say we are really bad. We could not break down their disruptive defense. Our offense never got in rhythm. It starts with pressure on the ball as we bring the ball up the court. That reduces our shot clock by almost 10 seconds. Then once we cross half court, the pressure continues on the ball. Our guards didn’t have a lot of space to work with. FSU’s defense stretched almost to midcourt yet we couldn’t break them down to find the open man. I think we will really miss Cheese and Egor/Barry until this team finds its identity.

  6. Amazing how quickly fans tend to freak out over one bb game, especially the first game of the year for an inexperienced team. The Gators missed Chiozza, though Nembhard will undoubtedly become a very good point guard as he gains more experience. FSU is long and quick, which obviously affected the Gators on both ends of the court. I had hoped for a better game, but the Gators clearly were not yet ready to take on a team like this. I’m not going to be too concerned at this point because we have not seen enough to draw firm conclusions. My expectation is that the Gators will learn from this and improve. There is still a long season ahead of them.

  7. Wow. I will tell you how bad it was. I turned it off early in the second half and watched the election results. They definitely did not seem ready to play. A lot of standing around on offense. Nobody was really moving without the ball. Hudson and Allen are going to have to play a lot better if they ever want to even get a try in the NBA. Hayes is the same as last year. No improvement at all. He still cannot catch the ball when it is passed to him in the low post. Nobody shot the ball well at all. Nembhard was the best though. I was most amazed at how they were not prepared at all on defense. They know Savoy is a three point shooter and nobody was bodying up on him and denying the shot. This team has a long way to go. Thankfully they have time to get better.

    • Think you pretty much nailed it. Just seems Allen has had a tough time figuring out how to play alongside Hudson. If they don’t figure it out soon, it could be a long season. No Egor to do the dirty work and pick up the slack in 3 point shooting. Very little movement, like you said.