Butler does in cold-shooting Florida in second half

Florida freshman guard Andrew Nembhard had 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds with no turnovers Friday vs. Butler. [Brad McClenny/ The Gainesville Sun/File]

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Butler defeated Florida 61-54 to finish in fifth place Friday at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The Gators (3-3) went 1-2 in the eight-team basketball tourney to finish in sixth place. Butler, which visits Gainesville on Dec. 29, improved to 5-1 after guards Kamar Baldwin and Paul Jorgensen combined for 35 points.

Baldwin scored 19 points while Butler hit several key free throws late to hold off Florida. Jorgensen added 16 points and three 3-pointers for the Bulldogs, who shot 50 percent after halftime and went ahead for good midway through the second half.

It was another bumpy offensive showing for the Gators, who struggled after halftime. Florida made 7 of 15 3-pointers in the first half, but shot 29 percent after halftime. UF made just 1 of 12 from the 3-point arc and 8 for 28 from the field in the final 20 minutes. Florida scored just 22 second-half points and made only 5 of 10 free throws.

Freshman guard Andrew Nembhard had 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds with no turnovers for the Gators.

The teams traded runs and cold spells in the first half. The Gators took a 32-27 lead at the break by overcoming a 21-15 Butler lead built off an 11-1 run by going on a 9-0 spurt in 3:06 on 3-pointers by Keith Stone, Deaundrae Ballard and Nembhard for a 24-21 lead.

Nembhard, who scored his 11 points in the first half, and Noah Locke nailed 3-pointers late to give the Gators the lead at intermission.

Ballard left with under a minute left in the first half when he caught teammate Kevarrius Hayes’ elbow across the face and the hit drew blood. He wore a bandage over his left eye in the second half.

UF didn’t get much from seniors KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson, who went 2-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-6 from the 3-point line. Hudson did not start for the second straight game.

Fourth-ranked Virginia got another test like coach Tony Bennett wanted, and fittingly it came from a team with a style that looked awfully familiar.

Perhaps that’s why the Cavaliers handled everything that came their way — from fighting through their off-target shooting to tussling with a preseason All-American — well enough to win the Battle 4 Atlantis championship.

Virginia (6-0) beat No. 25 Wisconsin 53-46 on Friday to claim the tournament title in a game that featured tough defense and plenty of clock-melting stretches that reduced the number of possessions, leading to a grind-it-out fight to the final horn. Wisconsin fell to 5-1.

Christian James scored 21 points to secure a place on the five-man all-tournament team in Oklahoma’s win in the third-place game 65-54 win over Dayton (4-2).

Jamuni McNeace added 16 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma (5-1), while Miles Reynolds also went 6 for 6 at the line in the final 34 seconds to stay in control.

Stanford (3-3) defeated Middle Tennessee 67-54 for seventh place. Middle Tennessee dropped to 3-4.

The Gators return home for a 7 p.m. game Tuesday against North Florida.


Stone 2-9 0-0 5, Hayes 3-5 3-5 9, Allen 1-5 1-2 3, Locke 2-6 0-0 5, Nembhard 4-6 0-0 11, K.Johnson 1-5 3-4 5, Bassett 0-2 3-4 3, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 4-9 0-0 11, Hudson 1-5 0-1 2. Totals 18-52 10-16 54.

BUTLER (5-1)

McDermott 2-7 2-2 7, Fowler 1-2 1-2 3, Baldwin 7-17 4-4 19, Jorgensen 6-12 1-2 16, Thompson 3-5 0-0 7, David 0-0 2-3 2, Brunk 1-2 1-2 3, Baddley 1-4 1-2 4. Totals 21-49 12-17 61.

Halftime_Florida 32-27. 3-Point Goals_Florida 8-27 (Nembhard 3-4, Ballard 3-6, Stone 1-4, Locke 1-5, K.Johnson 0-2, Allen 0-3, Hudson 0-3), Butler 7-21 (Jorgensen 3-6, Thompson 1-1, Baddley 1-3, McDermott 1-5, Baldwin 1-6). Fouled Out_Thompson. Rebounds_Florida 27 (Hayes 6), Butler 31 (Jorgensen 7). Assists_Florida 11 (Nembhard 7), Butler 11 (Baldwin 5). Total Fouls_Florida 14, Butler 17.



  1. This was a bad performance. Against the competent teams we have faced, our guys haven’t been getting open and our spacing has been terrible, and that’s on Coach White. Obviously a long season and we’ve got time to figure it out, but I think some things need to change:
    First off, I think we need to play Hayes and Bassett at the same time together more. This will create a more legitimate threat inside than hayes/stone or bassett/stone. It will also open up more 3 point shooting opportunities (not that our guys care if they’re open or not).
    Secondly, we need to start 1 Nembhard 2 Ballard 3 Stone 4 Bassett 5 Hayes, which would give us a lineup with size. Have okauru back up for ball handling duties (where has he been?) and have locke, Hudson, and Allen as instant offense guys off the bench (in that order).
    It’s a problem that we have this much talent with this poor performance. Hopefully Coach can turn it around before it starts to matter. But from what I’ve seen, we will finish .500 +/- a couple games, where the games we shoot 40% or better from 3 we win, and any worse we lose.

    • Edit: Also I don’t see guys cutting/flaring/pick and rolling. The only “plays” we’ve been running are pick and pops, which, as most people familiar with the game know, are easy to defend against a team that relies on the 3 so heavily.

    • Could not agree more. We lack an inside game and size and need to play not one but two of our bigger guys at the same time out of necessity for part of the game i.e Hayes and Bassett and we’ll also have Gak when he gets healthy and can play Stokes inside too. We basically have no inside game at this point and are basically a perimeter team and tonight it was on full display and it’s on Coach White for not making the adjustments and one he has to make for us to be competitive against quality opponents especially on the road and on neutral sites like tonight and in the NCAA tourney(if we ever make it). At home we’ll get away with it at times due to the home court advantage but not overall. The old saying is live by the 3 die by the 3.

  2. Ballard gives a 100 percent. He’s good and will only get better the way he hustles. Nembhard will probably make the SEC Freshman team.
    Even though this team has plenty of experienced players, it needs to gell as a unit. They seem better coached on defense than offense. No inside game to speak of and too dependent on the three. I’m sure the coaches are trying to get those things fixed. The players have a lot of talent but are lacking leadership and unity on offense. Too low key. There’s plenty of potential; they just need to get their chemistry right. It’s still early. I think it’ll happen if they really want it. Hope so.

  3. It’s fun to watch the Gators forge a new team identity. The tourney has been a crash course in championship basketball.

    My biggest concern is having to play light in the front court for most if not all of the season due to injuries to our big men.

    I’m also surprised that our returning players aren’t playing more cohesively as a team. After all, they are experienced playing together without a dominating post presence.

  4. Weakest Gator offense that I have seen in last 22 years. Mike White has no idea or plan to attack a defense with good talent. The Gators start their offense late in the shot clock and have no sense of urgency when they get behind. Billy D played fastball. Mike White play slow ball. The most concerning thing is the lack of development of the seniors. Allen looked like a good player his 2nd year on team, but has regressed considerably the past 2 years. No emotion and no leadership on his part. How is he playing point guard part time? No leadership and does nothing to inspire others. Hayes has no offense moves and has stone hands. Drops about every pass that is thrown to him the past 4 years. Hudson has totally lost his confidence. Stone has not improved either. Best players are Nembhard, Ballard and Bassett. Very disappointing that Gators would get blow out by FSU and get beat by Oklahoma and Butler. The jury is still out on Mike White.

  5. As stated in previous comments, this team is offensively challenged. I am, however, going to wait 2 more games (North Florida does NOT count) before expressing an opinion on the type of offense I would run. (Played high school and college ball in Florida and coached for 30 years on the international level, so I think I have little bit of insight, although a lot of commenters here are pretty good with their analysis). Again, going to wait 2 more games. It is hard not to just jump right in and state what I would do, what I see is wrong–or right–with this team, but am going to wait as I promised myself.

  6. Allen and Hudson have fallen off the face of the earth. Call the FBI. Where do we file a missing player report. What a waste. No heart, no desire, no intensity. Where is their self respect? Can we trade them for 2 players that show up? Hayes is a disaster. Another waste as is Stone. Gak and Johnson can’t even get out of the locker room. Where are the players? Bench all 4. Play the water boy. I don’t care.

  7. A lot of standing around and watching. Coach ‘W’ wants them to hustle back on ‘D’ so nobody’s ”crashing the boards.” A lot of ”one and done,” and I don’t mean talent. ”Come on Gators, (ya’ better) get up and go…” It’s basketball season, if y’all haven’t noticed.

  8. Same old story since Coach White has been here. Good effort, we do well if we happen to shoot above 50%, no inside game whatsoever. Hayes plays hard – I give him credit. However he shoots about 30% from inside of 6 feet – for his career. Stone usually looks asleep with a few moments of effort. Outside of that – nothing from inside. This team will only get better through recruiting. Everything else is conversation.

  9. The Gators offense was rolling in the fist half with Hudson on the bench. He then entered the game and the offense just got stuck in mud. When he went out, the offense went back into effective mode. Hudson should not play much, period, unless he becomes more seamless in the offense (he is a road block right now) in practice first. And the team lacks length inside with Stone, Bassett, and others. Hayes is the only one with that, but he lacks muscle and strength inside. With the team not shooting the three well and no inside game, it has major issue. Stokes and Johnson (not the true freshman) could really help with that, but neither is healthy and playing at the moment. Could be a long, long season if both of those players do not get healthy and are not able to help with lane production, which is not being provided by Hayes, Bassett, and Stone (who is really a small forward, not a power forward). White has some serious coaching to do if this team is going to come close to being a top 6 or 8 SEC team. They are a bottom tier team right now.

  10. They play KY, LSU and TN each twice, so that’s another six losses, they play at Arkansas and Auburn, that’s another two losses, Michigan St. and Butler upcoming, probably at least one if not two more losses, throw in another 3-4 along the way, and if you can do math, that does not even add up to the NIT.

  11. It’s too early in the season to give up on the Gators.

    It’s expected that Nembhard would need time to get his feet under him at point. The seniors have to do more to help in the scoring. For Locke to step in and give 11 shows there’s plenty of room on the stat sheet.

    We will get some size on the floor again in the weeks ahead.

  12. Kevaughn Allen remains a enigma. Never have I witnessed regression like this with a guy that was looking at possible/probable stardom. Hudson is now following the blueprint. Reminds me of Brett Nelson’s senior year. It may be time to move on to the young guys and take our lumps.