Sooners defeat Gators, 65-60

[Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Christian James scored 18 points to help Oklahoma hold off Florida 65-60 in Wednesday’s first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Aaron Calixte hit two clinching free throws with 5.0 seconds left for the Sooners (4-0), who led by 11 in the first half and 63-54 with 3:38 left. The Gators got back in it with 3-pointers from KeVaughn Allen and Noah Locke to make it a one-possession game, then had a final possession to pull within one or tie it in the final 15 seconds.

But Allen’s driving shot missed, setting up Calixte’s free throws to advance the Sooners in the winners’ bracket.

Oklahoma helped itself by taking a 48-34 rebounding advantage, including 15-7 on the offensive glass.

Dontay Bassett, the redshirt sophomore, had 14 points off the bench to lead the Gators (2-2), who hit a season-high 11 3-pointers after struggling from behind the arc entering the tournament. The Gators, however, only made 3 of 11 free throws.

“Confidence is a big issue with this team right now, and that’s something we’ve got to get to the bottom of,” UF coach Mike White said on UF’s website. “I don’t think free throws were the only factors where that showed. We had six or eight basketballs go through our hands because we’re playing a little bit too fast. Missed layups. Missed tip-ins. Some of it is playing hard, ’cause my guys played hard and fought for each other, but you have play more confidently.”

Florida will play Stanford at 7 p.m. Thursday, while Oklahoma will play Wisconsin at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The tournament will be played in Imperial Arena, a converted ballroom that seats about 3,500 fans. It concludes Friday.

Ethan Happ had 16 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out late, and No. 25 Wisconsin beat Stanford 62-46 Wednesday afternoon.

Sophomore Nate Reuvers had a tournament-record nine blocked shots for the Badgers (4-0), a total that also tied the longtime Wisconsin single-game record.

D’Mitrik Trice added 16 points for Wisconsin, which shot just 35 percent after halftime yet came up with a critical 9-0 burst to seize control after the Cardinal had gotten within a basket with 6:53 left.

KZ Okpala’s 3-pointer pulled Stanford (2-2) to within 44-42. By the end of the game, though, the Badgers had scored 18 of the final 22 points to secure a semifinal matchup with Oklahoma on Thursday.

Okpala scored 11 points but made 2 of 12 shots for the Cardinal, who shot 27 percent overall. Stanford faces Florida on Thursday in the consolation bracket.

Butler and Dayton met in the third game Wednesday, followed by Middle Tennessee against the fourth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers.


What: Battle 4 Atlantis

Who: Florida (2-2) vs. Stanford (2-2)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Paradise Island, Bahamas


Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850



Manek 2-7 2-2 6, Doolittle 1-3 0-0 2, McNeace 5-8 1-1 11, James 6-16 3-3 18, Calixte 1-3 2-2 4, Kuath 1-1 0-0 2, Freeman 1-3 0-0 3, Polla 0-0 0-0 0, Reynolds 1-6 2-2 4, Odomes 5-7 1-5 11, Bieniemy 2-10 0-0 4. Totals 25-64 11-15 65.


Stone 4-10 0-4 10, Hayes 1-4 2-2 4, Nembhard 2-9 1-3 6, Allen 4-10 0-2 10, Hudson 2-8 0-0 4, Bassett 6-8 0-0 14, K.Johnson 1-2 0-0 3, Ballard 0-1 0-0 0, Locke 3-6 0-0 9, Okauru 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 3-11 60.

Halftime_Oklahoma 32-30. 3-Point Goals_Oklahoma 4-17 (James 3-6, Freeman 1-2, Reynolds 0-1, Calixte 0-1, Bieniemy 0-3, Manek 0-4), Florida 11-28 (Locke 3-6, Bassett 2-3, Stone 2-4, Allen 2-5, K.Johnson 1-2, Nembhard 1-3, Okauru 0-1, Hudson 0-4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Oklahoma 45 (Manek 10), Florida 30 (Hayes, Stone 7). Assists_Oklahoma 13 (Reynolds, Calixte, McNeace, Bieniemy 2), Florida 15 (Nembhard 6). Total Fouls_Oklahoma 13, Florida 14.




  1. This was a game that the Gators had many chances to win. Simply hitting a decent percentage of their free throws could have made the difference. Hopefully, White can help the team to improve and become a good team before long. At the moment, they seem average at best.

    • The SEC is pretty good this year, KY, TN, Auburn, MSU, saw Arkansas over the weekend defeat Indiana, the Hogs have a 6’11” big man who will give UF fits, we already saw what a team with length and athleticism like FSU can do to the Gators, and I thought this year would be a pretty good one in Gainesville, oops!

  2. A ”48-34 rebounding advantage, including 15-7 on the offensive glass” for Oklahoma is just a prelude to what this Gator Men’s Basketball season will often look like, without the inside the paint, ”the bigs” play getting better as the season progresses. But I was proud of Bassett and Stone, as they played tough and gave a great effort for most of the game. But the disparity in rebounding and easy put backs will be a season long dilemma for Florida (I fear). Expecially if Hayes doesn’t improve (and after 3-4 years at U.F. too!?!?) And Stokes and Johnson continue to stay on the injured list… for another season, or what!?!?!
    Allen, Hudson, Nembhard, Stone and Bassett would be my primary starting ‘5’, if I were the coaching staff for Florida. But it’s a long season, so ”GO GATORS!”

  3. Nembhard has great potential but let’s be honest, he’s not ready to lead this team. Play Allen at point since he isn’t shooting well anyhow. We need more experience at the point. The entire team needs to play with more intensity. They seem to be pacing themselves. Ballard, perhaps is the exception but he hasn’t developed into a scorer yet. Maybe that will come. We simply don’t have a dominating big man. I am surprised we have not done a better job recruting that position. Bassett played a nice game. I think he has the best upside as our big. Generally, players are standing flat footed, reacting to shots and balls rather than being proactive. Very little boxing out and slow to get to 50-50 balls. It’s interesting to watch their faces and reactions when they eventually see the situation and realize it’s too late. It’s as if they couldn’t have anticipated the bounce or direction of the rebound or that a shot will have more than 60 percent chance of missing. Let’s hope they can figure it all out and make some huge improvements. Go Gators!

  4. Right now .this team is offensively challenged, free throw shooting challenged and rebounding challenged. Hudson disappeared. The point play is weak. I speak from 30 years as a basketball coach and I know what offense I would play with this team, but I am not White. He is playing what he thinks is the best system for his team. Hayes and Allen are still not living up to their hype, so all that talk too years ago must have been just that–hype. I will wait 3 more games before becoming an arm-chair QB–er, basketball coach again. Right now, this team is watch in just about every phase of the game. 3 for 11 from the charity while Okie goes 11-15.

  5. We have a freshman PG who needs time to develop into a floor general. Until he learns how to make everyone around him better and the team develops trust in him, we will struggle. He needs the confidence to take charge. On defense, we need senior leadership to be more vocal and emotional. What is our identity? Who is the star? Who is the leader? It will take time to sort that out….hopefully by conference play.

  6. We don’t have a big team and got whooped on the boards but that being said Coach White is hurting us by going with this NBA – 1/4 offense (one guy down low and 4 guys on the perimeter) and it’s killing us. We don’t have the talent for it, get enough rebounds, ball movement, etc. on offense – it’s not working. He has to make adjustments in our offense and he’s not doing it so this falls on him. Maybe he thinks this gives us our best chance but it doesn’t. Whatever bigs we have he has to play more of them and play them together not just one and until he does we will keep getting beat by tall – athletic teams especially on the road like at FSU. If you watch on offense sometimes we have one guy rebounding versus 3-4-5 for the defense and it’s because we have 4 guys on the perimeter. It’s painful to watch!

  7. This team is not scoring. We need scoring. Where are all the shooters on this team? KA did not score all last year. He lost his stroke and touch. It appear he still has not found it. He needs to sit. JH was dynamic at times last year. Where is he this year? He needs to sit. KH still has no clue how to score. He is lost. He needs to sit. This team is painful to watch. No scoring. No intensity. They play timid. Play the people who can shoot, score and who have intensity.

    Very good observations. White needs to make some adjustments and get the players fired up with enthusiasm to play for the University of Florida. If White can’t fire anyone up with enthusiasm, he should be fired with enthusiasm. (LOL)

    PS: The school’s $12 million investment in White has given the fans a mediocre team (at best) and a bottom-feeder in the SEC. Without significant changes (either personnel, system or coaching), this team will be lucky to be .500 ball club.

  9. Another game dominated on the boards. I don’t see anyone on this roster who can become a rebounding machine. Coach White needs to realize that he is no longer coaching in a mid major college and start recruiting sone big men. It seems like all he likes to recruit is guards and wing players in the 6-02 to 6-05 range. You need much more size to compete at the major conference level.

    • Yep, plenty of teams remaining on our schedule with big men who will dominate the paint, we’ll have 1 in 5 games where we shoot the 3 at a pace to win or keep it close, but that’s about it, may not even make the NIT.