Some observations following UF’s 71-65 loss at No. 11 Kansas on Friday night:
— Florida went through a stretch of 5:35 in the second half without scoring during a 17-0 Kansas run. It started with back-to-back turnovers by Devin Robinson and Jacob Kurtz and continued with six straight shots in six trips down the floor. But what hurt the Gators the most was Chris Walker drawing UF’s seventh team foul with 6:48 left. That allowed Kansas to get to the free-throw line more frequently and the Jayhawks converted, finishing 27-32 (84.4 percent) from the charity stripe. The Gators have now blown second-half leads of 15 points (Miami) and 18 points (Kansas) this season.
— I liked sophomore center Chris Walker’s energy tonight and I thought Florida coach Billy Donovan should have played him more. Walker had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 15 minutes. I think Walker has earned a starting spot ahead of Dorian Finney-Smith, who is still struggling to play through a broken hand. But the only problem is that Walker and senior center Jon Horford don’t have great chemistry together. Regardless, Walker deserves more minutes off the bench moving forward.
— Kansas was lazy on the boards in the first half, but in the second half, the Jayhawks turned up their intensity and played more physical, finishing with a 35-27 rebounding advantage. Florida had just 3 offensive rebounds in the second half. Combine that with Kansas going to the free-throw line 32 times compared to 10 trips for Florida, and it’s easy to see the Jayhawks won the game with muscle. It’s where Donovan has failed the Gators in recruiting. There should have been an adequate, physical, back-to-the-basket scorer in place to replace Patric Young this season. Given Damontre Harris’ disciplinary problems, Donovan and his staff needed a contingency plan in place. USF transfer John Egbunu will help next season. But a school like Florida should have quality post scorers available on its roster every year. No excuses.