Gators get bulldozed by Bulldogs, 78-71

Florida sophomore forward Keyontae Johnson (11) has a shot slapped away by Mississippi State guard Nick Weatherspoon in the first half Tuesday at the O'Connell Center. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Mike White was not happy with Florida’s first-half defense Tuesday night. He gave it a C-minus.

The second half?

What’s lower than an F?

“They had their way with us in every way imaginable,” the Florida coach said.

 Florida’s season continued to free fall with a third straight loss, this time blowing a 16-point first half lead with a brutal final 20 minutes of the 78-71 setback to Mississippi State in the O’Connell Center.

After leading by 10 at halftime, Florida was outscored in the second half 43-26.

“We were two different teams out there on the floor,” said senior Kerry Blackshear Jr. “We have to figure out how to be more consistent.”

Florida is now 12-8 and 4-3 in the SEC after its second consecutive home loss. Mississippi State is 13-7 and 4-3. Florida shot 29.6 percent in the second half to Mississippi State’s 60.9 percent.

“Our guys could feel the momentum of the game going our way,” said MSU coach Ben Howland.

The Bulldogs were led by likely first-rounder Reggie Perry, who had 27 points and had as many 3s as he did dunks and layups. Florida never could find an answer for the 6-foot-10 center.

When Perry was not scoring, someone was getting a wide-open 3 in the second half (3-of-5) or driving to the basket for an easy layup.

Mississippi State’s Tyson Carter scored seven straight points during a stretch where the Bulldogs took the lead.

“I’ve done a poor job with this team defensively, to say the least,” said White. “They ran it right down our throats. Our level of pride defensively is different from any team I’ve had.”

Florida was on fire early as Scottie Lewis scored 10 of UF’s first 12 points. In fact, Lewis — who said he was treasuring every moment because of the death of Kobe Bryant — got too excited and had to leave the game just five minutes in to control his heartbeat.

He finished the game with a team-high 17 points and Florida looked as if it was going to roll, leading 36-20 at the six-minute mark in the first half.

But Mississippi State cut the lead to 10 by halftime and Florida’s offense went into one of its patented funks after intermission.

“In the first five minutes, I had a pit in my stomach,” White said. “Our flow was completely different.”

During the first 8:52 of the second half, Florida only made two baskets and had five turnovers, which contributed to the Bulldogs’ rally.

The Gators failed to make a 3 in the second half after making eight in the first half.

“We did a much better job at both ends of the floor in the second half,” Howland said.

Florida, on the other hand, took another step backward in a topsy-turvy season that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

“When we’re 100 percent focused, we’re pretty dangerous,” said Lewis.

But here they are, 20 games into the season, and the problems are the same as they have been all season.

“We’re a team that isn’t playing extremely hard right now,” said White. 

Florida had four players in double figures with Blackshear getting 13 (on 3-of-10 shooting), Keyontae Johnson 10 and Andrew Nembhard 10.

Nembhard had to leave the game at the end of the first half after stepping on someone’s foot and limping off the court but returned to play 17 minutes in the second half.

After playing four of the last five games at home, the Gators now head on the road for three of the next four games.

The road stretch starts with a game at Vanderbilt (8-11, 0-6 heading into Wednesday’s game at Kentucky) at 8:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Up next
Who: Florida at Vanderbilt
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


Perry 9-14 6-7 27, Woodard 6-7 2-2 16, Ado 3-5 0-0 6, Weatherspoon 4-9 4-4 13, Stewart 2-5 0-1 4, Carter 4-11 3-3 12, Molinar 0-1 0-0 0, Oduro 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 15-17 78.

FLORIDA (12-8)

Lewis 6-10 2-2 17, Blackshear 3-10 5-8 13, Nembhard 5-12 0-0 10, Johnson 4-8 2-2 10, Locke 2-7 0-0 5, Payne 1-3 0-0 2, Mann 2-5 0-0 6, Glover 3-3 2-2 8, Jitoboh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 11-14 71.

Halftime_Florida 45-35. 3-Point Goals_Mississippi St. 7-12 (Perry 3-3, Woodard 2-2, Weatherspoon 1-2, Carter 1-3, Stewart 0-2), Florida 8-20 (Lewis 3-4, Blackshear 2-4, Mann 2-4, Locke 1-5, Nembhard 0-3). Rebounds_Mississippi St. 30 (Perry, Ado 8), Florida 21 (Blackshear 7). Assists_Mississippi St. 13 (Weatherspoon 8), Florida 12 (Nembhard, Locke 3). Total Fouls_Mississippi St. 14, Florida 14.



  1. BigDaddyMafia said… (original post)

    Like im starting to wonder if he has blackmail on certain member s of gator media with the way they defend this absolute ***** show

    No it goes back to the Gainesville suns love affair with Jeremy foley. They are terrified his legacy will be tarnished for good if this flops as hard as muschamp and macelwain. Foley told them he was the next Donovan and when I talked to Former uf president Bernie machin back in summer 2018 he was talking about how excited for Basketball season he was cause of all the smoke he got blown about mike white. Sadly even though we are going to miss the NCAA tournament this year we will not fire white , they are going to give him another year and this is all foley grasping at the puppet strings in the local fake gator news media. Also let’s keep in mind how much foley hates dan Mullen , the lore he wind the worse he looks to….. pat Dooley maybe kissing mullens butt now but go back in 2017 and listen to how much he trashed Mullen how he didn’t want him to come coach here and how he didn’t get slong with Foley’s life loser employees in the athletic department. It’s sickening , gator boosters must file a lawsuit against jereny foley .

  2. Mike White has received a total pass from the Gator Media. Pat Dooley would be all over Ron Zook, Wil Muschamp, and Jim McElwain if their teams consistenly underperformed. Mike White’s offense is totally stagnant. Players comes into the system and regress instead of getting better. Blackshear, Allen, Hudson, Mann, Ballard, Okarau, Lewis. There are others whom show little improvement. Kerry Blackshear pre season All American has been turned into another Kevarrius Hayes on offennse by Mike White’s program. How did this happen? Not nearly the same player as at Virginia Tech. Maybe it is that Pat Dooley and other media covering basketball do not really care that much about basketball. Billy D was always one of the top two coaches in the SEC. How many coaches in the SEC whom Mike White is a better coach than? Maybe Vandy or Ole Miss. That is about it. Keep Mike White and keep getting clobbered by Leonard Hamilton every year and being a bubble team every year. The smart move would be to go after Anthony Grant whom is lighting it up at Dayton. Bring Grant back home just like Mullen. Doubt if the media really cares as long as football keeps winning.

    • Gatordog1, I agree with 90 % of your post. However, Mr. Dooley and the Sun defended Will Muschamp long after he should have been gone. Why? Sure he was a Foley hire. But Muschamp must know how to endear himself to the right people. Mr. Dooley really liked him and still seems obsessed with his well being. In my humble opinion, nice guy or not, losing to Georgia Southern at home should have been a firing offense. Mr. Muschamp, you’ve worked hard, we like you, you’re a good guy, but sorry, this performance today was inexcusable, we have to go in a different direction, we wish you the best. That should have been the conversation. The delay of the inevitable, set the program back years. I almost think Mr. White may be the Muschamp of the basketball program. But wow, he seems like such a nice guy and a great “fit” (gosh I hate that term) for the Athletic Department. I’m not in the Fire White camp quite yet, but it does cause me concern to see underperformance and inconsistency and when I think back to Muschamp, I become fearful of the Administration (with little to no pressure from the media) delaying doing the inevitable because of someone else being likeable, nice guy, good fit etc. I’m considered likeable and a nice guy to at least half a dozen people and my dog. But that doesn’t make me a good basketball coach. I hope this team can get it together and make the tourney, but time and opportunities are running out. Go Gators. Make us proud.

  3. I was going to say it but then Coach White said it himself, ““I’ve done a poor job with this team defensively, to say the least,” said White. ”
    Team games are actually a dual between coaches and he just got out coached. players are the chess pieces of coaches; they chose them, train them, and play them in their game calling. If the players dont execute its the coaches fault ultimately. I dont totally agree with others because until this year coach white teams have played good defense. The 1st year he gets a haul on offensive talent, defensively they fall to pieces! Hope he gets it figured out.

  4. I watched the whole thing. I’m wondering if White is a “battle field coach”. MSU adjusted by hitting UF in the mouth around the basket and we never got up. Then came the endless threes, AGAIN. Our guys and coach just stood around the court, not knowing how to respond. Just throwing it to poor Blackshear with 3-4 defenders around him, with NO help afterwards, isn’t the answer. Yes, Pat is a Foley Regime defender. I assume he had/has to be to survive?

  5. Against Baylor Nembhard shot 14 times and had only 4 foul shots. Against Miss State, he shot only 12 times and had 0 foul shots. Using him this way is like asking Pete Alonso to bunt and Kyle Trask to run all of the time. Coach White needs to stop using Nembhard primarily as a passing point guard and have him shoot between 20 and 25 times per game. He is the only player on the Gators who can drive (and draw fouls for which he shoots 90%), fake and step back for a shot, and shoot well off of the dribble. Making him pass all of the time for others to shoot winds up running the clock down and forcing someone to take a desperation heave to beat the buzzer. If he shoots 20 to 25 times a game, not only will the Gators score more, but when he forces teams to double-cover him, the other players will be more open to take easy shots. He shot a lot in the Auburn Game and in the prior game to score over 20 points both times and the Gators won. It was heart-breaking last year to watch him unselfishly give up the ball and again this year. When you have a cannon, you don’t use a pea shooter. Watching him pass all of the time is just so frustrating. But the problem with coaches is that they are often wedded to systems and they can’t see that they need to depart from the system when it makes sense. Maravich senior did not use Pete to pass.

  6. The team does not have any real strong leaders on it. Most of them are very quiet with the exception of Lewis. The other thing that I notice is that the other teams are more physical and outhustle the Gators. They seem to want it more. Johnson not blocking out on the free throw attempt at the end of the game was hard to take. Blackshear seems frustrated out on the court and not the same player at Virginia Tech.

  7. Mike White has not built a program and it shows. His program has no identity. When you think back on the great coaches in both programs, they had a philosophy and we all knew what it was…Spurrier, Meyer, Mullen, Krueger, Donovan. Hell, even Muschamp had a philosophy.

    Gator basketball has no identity. Are we a perimeter program?….but we don’t recruit shooters. Are we an up-tempo program?….but we slow it down for long stretches. Are we a hard-nosed, tough defensive program?…but we don’t recruit big bodies in the middle. Do we run sets or motion offense? Are we a zone or man-to-man team? Do we press and drop to 1-3-1? We try to do it all. I’m not saying you can’t evolve, but you have to have something to evolve from.

    When Donovan came to UF, he said that we were going to be up-tempo on offense with the offense predicated on the high pick-and-roll and transition. On defense were were going to zone press and drop back into man to man. We were going to be gritty and tough. It’s why his first two recruits were Major Parker and Brent Wright. Over time he adjusted by adding the 2-3 matchup zone and changing his offensive philosophy a bit, but a recruit knew what he was getting when he signed with Donovan.

    White’s failures early in recruiting have killed him the last two years. That is the reason his team is so young.

    For 4 years, Donovan’s recruits have been the foundation of White’s program. Even in year 4, Donovan recruits accounted for 30% of the scoring. Comparably Kruger recruits only accounted for 16% of the scoring in Donovan’s 4th year; it was one guy (Kenyan Weaks).

    The following players were recruited by Donovan. I understand they had to develop in White’s system, but Donovan was the one who identified them as the type of player he needed.

    -Kevaughn Allen -Kavarrius Hayes -Keith Stone -Justin Leon -Devon Robinson -Chris Chiozza -Kasey Hill -Dorian Finney-Smith -John Egbunu

    Compare that list to White’s list in year 1 & 2. One thing to keep in mind is that some of these guys were grad transfers and only with the program 1-2 years. No opportunity to build. It’s why there are no leaders on this team.

    -Eric Hester (1 year-off team) -Dontay Bassett (3 years) -Gorjok Gak (3 years-transferred) -Chase Johnson (1 year-transferred) -DeAundrae Ballard (2 years-transferred) -Isiah Stokes (1 year-transferred) -Mike Okauru (2 years-transferred) -Canyon Berry (1 year-grad) – Egor Koulechov (1 year-grad) -Jalen Hudson (2 years-grad)

    The only “Mike White” guy who has come up through the program is Bassett (2.2 pnts; 2 rbnds).

    Compare that to Donovan’s 5th year. Look at the leadership and foundation that he had built. Toughness, scoring, defense. They were all “Donovan guys” who spent 3 and 4 years in the program.

    The juniors on that team were:
    -Udonis Haslem (16.8, 7.5r) -Teddy Dupay (15.3;4.3a) -Ladarius Halton (3.2pnts)

    The seniors on that team were:
    -Brent Wright (12.7; 6.2r) -Major Parker (5.1; 3.4r)

    I’m not saying that White has to be Donovan but he needs to decide who he is going to be. If his team is weak, recruit toughness or fire the strength coach. If they can’t play defense, recruit strong defenders and big bodies in the middle. If they can’t shoot, recruit shooters. The problem is that you can’t be all those things from inexperienced freshman, sophomores that are held together with grad transfer band aids.

    • OrlandoGator, that’s a STRONG ARGUMENT! Thank you! As a born and raised Gator, here in Hogtown, I appreciate your post and facts/stats. And they’re scary, too! And then there’s this: Florida Men’s Basketball is now 12-8 heading into Feb. And they still have games like, A&M in Texas (long flight), UGA, Tennessee, and Kentucky (twice) to play. So as of today, I can’t honestly say, ”Florida will be an NCAA Tourney team in 2020.” And in the same year Florida names the court, ”Billy Donovan Court,” too. (Ugh! Sorry Coach ‘D’). And while I have been repeating Mark Wise’s mantra all season, ”The season is a journey,” the journey is heading back to the docks! So, “Come on, Gators, get up and GO!”

    • Great post Orlando. Analysis supported by sound data. I have not researched the data, but my gut tells me that the makeup of this team resembles that of UK the past decade. I don’t think we are experiencing the same results as those UK teams. A quick glance reveals that 40-60 % of team production came from true freshmen and sophomores as a general rule. It seems that Mr. Callipari knows how to utilize the freshman and sophomore talent better than we seem to be doing at present.

      • Because I guess I have nothing better to do I looked at the scoring, rebounding and assist breakdown for this team.

        Seniors (1) *This is Blackshear and he is only in his first year.
        19.7% of scoring; 25% of rebounds; 14% of assists

        Juniors (2)
        1.1% of scoring; 4.2% of rebounds; 0.9% of assists

        Sophomores (3)
        46.4% of scoring; 36.7% of rebounds; 68.7% of assists

        Freshman (5)
        32.8% of scoring; 34% of rebounds; 16.3% of assists

        Players with only 1 off-season in White’s coaching, strength system (6)
        54.5% of scoring; 59% of rebounds; 30.% of assists

        Players with 2 or less off-seasons in White’s system (9)
        98.9% of scoring; 95.8% of rebounds; 99.1% of assists

        No wonder they aren’t mentally tough, look lost on offense and aren’t as strong. This program has no quality 3+ year players for them to emulate.

        I think White gets one more year because the roster should be more balanced next year. However, I’m still not sure that he knows how to recruit the intangibles or create a team that gels.

    • Orlando, you make some good points, but you’re off on your assessment of White’s first class. The first four players you listed were White’s first class. Allen, Hayes, and Stone were Donovan’s recruits, but White had to quickly talk them into staying. White was announced as Florida’s coach on May 7, 2015, and the end of the signing period was 13 days later on May 20. Justin Leon was White’s recruit who followed him La Tech. This was made possible, because a fourth Donovan recruit, whose name I can’t recall, declined to sign after Donovan’s departure.

      Let me address Gatordog1 here, regarding players regressing. Allen and Hudson did regress, but I believe that’s because they could never figure out how to play on the court together. I suppose you could blame that on White, but he repeatedly told the Sun how he pleaded with Allen to get more aggressive, but to no avail. You can’t say Mann and Lewis have regressed, since they’ve never played college ball before. This SEC season is their first taste of “big boy” basketball. They’re both having to adjust to a 3-point line that’s 2’5″ farther than the high school line, and it’s taking its toll.

      Blackshear is still averaging 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. When’s the last time a Gator had those stats for a season? He’s getting better shooting 3’s, since he started off at about 25% and now has improved to 33.3%. However, his overall shooting percentage is not good for a big man, because he can’t score through contact. Maybe it’s because the SEC, top to bottom, has more physicality than the lower tier ACC schools. He’s definitely regressing in his FT shooting after starting out over 80%, but you can hardly blame that on White.

      Ballard and Okaru didn’t regress, they just weren’t very good to begin with.

      Back to your points, Orlando, I think Nembhard’s the leader of the team, but the problem I see is that no one plays with any fire or anger. They just don’t show enough hatred for losing.

      After saying all that, I really like your reply to BamaGator. I appreciate a man who looks up stats! I like Coach White as a person, but I do believe he will be, and should be, on the hot seat next season.

      Go Gators!!!

      • They are technically White’s first class, but Donovan is the one that sold them on the program. They committed to Donovan. They recommitted to White. My bad, on Justin Leon. I forgot he followed White. However, in fairness, I did the same thing for Donovan. He got Kenyan Weaks to recommit after committing to Lon Kruger. If you count Weaks as a Donovan recruit then it drives my point home even further because by Year 4 there was not a single Kruger recruit on the roster and it was an even more balanced roster made up completely of Donovan’s players.

        It’s splitting hairs anyway because if you look at White’s true recruiting where he had to take the relationship from start to finish, classes 2 and 3 were just horrid. Ultimately those classes are why he is in the situation this year.

        As far as a leader, I guess Nembhard is the “program guy” but as you said, “He doesn’t play with fire..”. I guess I think of a “program guy” as someone who is out there on the court, who reflects the head coach and defines the program.

        Also when you compare it to Donovan’s 5th year, Haslem and Dupay were juniors, Wright and Parker were seniors. Those guys were very reflective of Donovan’s program. So much so that their jerseys hang in the practice facility.

        I am not saying to fire Mike White. All I am saying is that he has struggled to build a well defined program. I actually don’t think players have regressed; I think the players her recruited before last year just weren’t that good. There has not been a “program guy” to show the young players the work ethic and intensity required to be great since Chiozza and Egbunu. Even those guys did not come up in the Mike White system. I think White gets one more year because next year he will have quality juniors, sophomores and freshmen. If his teams are still “soft”, “lack discipline” and “don’t have intensity”, he needs to go.

        • Wasn’t his third class Nembhard, Johnson, and Locke? No matter, I don’t think you and I are that far apart in our opinions. It was Gatordog1 who thinks the players have regressed. I’d rather not fire White, but I completely agree with your last sentence.

          • All the comments get confusing. Ha!
            We basically agree. And just because I had the time and stats are fun:
            2015 (Transition class): Allen; Stone; Hayes; Leon
            2016: Hester; Bassett; Gak
            2017: Johnson, Ballard, Stokes, Okauru
            2018: Nembhard, Johnson, Locke
            2019: Lewis, Mann, Payne, Jitoboh, Glover

            Berry, Hudson, Koulechev, Blackshear and the transfers brought in this year are sprinkled in there too but I didn’t feel like looking up all the years.

            Have a great weekend!

        • Joe Shiver: Hudson and Allen did regress significantly when you look at statistics. Both looked very ineffective often during their senior year, which you would not expect out of veterans. Blackshear was a preseason All American. Blackshear’s average and field goal percentage are down from the time at V Tech. 44.4% percent at UF. Never below 50 percent at V Tech. Maybe his stats are good for UF, but not what he was hoping for I am sure. Blackshear had twenty three points against NCAA champ Virgina and Duke last year. The word for the other players should have been developed instead of regressed. Mann and Lewis are 5 star recruits. Mann looked great in AAU and more than held his own with Cole Anthony and Nico Mannion when he played against them. Ballard and Okarau were both 4 star recruits whom never developed. Keith Stone did not either. Hayes did develop. I am sure Mike White will be back next year. I would suggest a change in coaches. Billy brought in Shyaat whom made a difference. Billy’s players would either develop or he would have them transfer elsewhere.

          • I agree that both Allen and Hudson regressed, but it’s my opinion that they regressed because of each other. When Allen was the man in his sophomore year, there was no problem. When Hudson came on the scene, Allen regressed in his junior year, because he couldn’t figure out how to play on the court with Hudson. Still, things were ok, because Hudson was playing well. The problem came in their senior year when Hudson lost his game, and his confidence for 90% of the season. Allen never did figure out how to play, i.e. how aggressive he should be, when Hudson was on the court with him.

            I type this, though, after the Gators have lost on the road to Ole Miss. That was a game they almost had to have. They need at least 4 road wins, imo, and that was one of the most winnable. They’re 2-3 now, and TAMU and UGA seem to be their best opportunities to get to 4 road wins. UK seems a certain loss, and UT is a probable loss, so that would put the Gators at 4-5.

            I think they need to go at least 10-8 in conference to have a shot at the Dance, so that means they’d need to go 6-3 at home. They’ve already lost to MSU and have UK, ARK, and LSU as losable games in the O’Dome. The margin is razor thin.

            It would be an unconscionable offense for White to miss the Dance with this team of three 5 stars, three four stars, and the most wanted transfer player. If he misses the Dance, it’s almost an unforgivable offense considering the supposed talent of this team. It could be one that gets him fired.

  8. I’m just throwing a name out there just for discussion. What about Mike Miller. In his 2nd year at Memphis coaching. Former Gator great and outstanding NBA pro. Mike White is not building a program. Maybe too soon but ?

      • Good point, Sly. I’m with g.i., below, regarding Grant. He’s got the Flyers flying high!

        That is, of course, if it comes down to firing Coach White. I’d certainly rather not, but we can’t stand too many more first weekend tourney exits. It would be a shame if this team, that some experts predicted were Final Four caliber, ended up in the NIT.

  9. ”Plenty of Dayton teams through the years would have lost a game like this. These Flyers found a way to win…” -David Jablonski.
    He’s speaking of Head Coach Anthony Grant’s Dayton Flyers. ‘IF’ any former Gator Basketball ties come back to Hogtown, many of us would like to see Anthony Grant get a chance. And perhaps ‘IF’ Florida Head Coach Mike White felt some warming on his seat, he’d learn how to ”coach up” some 18-19 yr. olds better. Even though they’re contributing more than 70% of the Gators’ present scoring (according to orlandogator77’s numbers). Go Gators!