Florida college basketball: 3 takeaways from the Gators' 97-69 loss at No. 3 Alabama

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Feb 8, 2023; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Florida forward Colin Castleton (12), Florida guard Myreon Jones (0) and Florida guard Will Richard (5) defend a drive by Alabama guard Jaden Bradley (0) at Coleman Coliseum.

The Florida basketball team has hung its hat on defense of late. But the Gators had no answers for No. 3 Alabama's firepower, falling 97-69 to the Crimson Tide on Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Gators (13-11, 6-5 SEC) trailed by 29 points at halftime and were down by as many as 30 in the second half in surrendering a season-high 97 points. It was Florida's most lopsided loss in SEC play and worst loss by margin since falling 84-55 to West Virginia on Nov. 27 at the PK85 Tournament in Portland, Ore.

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"Just got hit with a buzz-saw tonight," Florida coach Todd Golden said. "Not going to cry over spilled milk. I feel like you don’t want to ever just – not that the game doesn’t matter, but we’re going to flush this. There’s not a lot to take away from this."

Senior center Colin Castleton led Florida with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman forward Brandon Miller led Alabama (21-3, 11-0 SEC) with 24 points.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Gators bombed at 3-point line

Florida didn't do a good enough job shooting or defending the 3-point line, as Alabama shot 44.1 percent from 3-point range (15 of 44), while Florida shot 28.6 percent (4 of14). Alabama made five of its first eight 3-point attempts and went 9 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half to build a 52-23 halftime lead.

"We couldn’t take away the three in the first half, and it allowed them to separate," Golden said.

The Gators, meanwhile, went 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, failing to score from 3-point range until Will Richard drained one at the 18:18 mark in the second half. Miller and guard Mark Sears (19 points) each had four 3-pointers, combining for more than half of Alabama's treys.

Tempo favored Alabama

Though Florida outscored Alabama by a narrow 10-9 margin in fast-break points, Alabama's athleticism and speed with the ball was tough for the Gators to handle. Florida was rarely able to get its defense set, especially in the first half, when the Tide shot 56.3 percent from the field.

"They have guys who made tough shots," Castleton said. "After that, we got down a little bit as a team, as a unit, and let guys blow by each other one on one and get to the basket."

Not enough from the UF bench

Florida didn't get enough from its bench players against a deep Alabama team, as the Tide outscored the Gators 29-12 in bench points. Sophomore swingman Kowacie Reeves had 6 points on 1 of 6 shooting from the floor with 3 turnovers, while sophomore forward Alex Fudge went 0 for 5 from the field and 0 of 2 from the foul line in failing to score.

Senior guard Jahvon Quinerly was Alabama's top contributor off the bench with 11 points and 5 assists.