Beyond the arc: 3 takeaways from Florida’s 71-68 loss at Texas A&M

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Some observations following UF’s 71-68 loss to Texas A&M at Reed Arena.

— Florida coach Mike White credited Alex Caruso’s defense in shutting down freshman guard KeVaughn Allen, who was held scoreless during 18 foul-plagued minutes against Texas A&M. But White also felt the 6-foot-2 Allen could have been more aggressive during some stretches. Allen took just four shot attempts, going 0 of 4 from the floor. “He’s had a few games like this, where you dare him to shoot it or challenge him to shoot it, regardless,” White said. “I pulled him over at one point during a foul shooting situation and told him how badly we needed him to shoot the basketball. I thought he passed up two or three open ones to drive it and I’m not sure the result would have been as good if he would have just jumped up and let it fly. We’re not good enough offensively to not have him and Dorian (Finney-Smith) be really aggressive for us, regardless of what their percentages are.”

— Junior forward Justin Leon continues to progress nicely. The 6-foot-8 JUCO transfer made 7 of 8 shots from the floor, including both of his 3-point attempts, and is now 8 of 12 from 3-point range beyond the arc this season. Texas A&M played Leon more tightly on the 3-point line, and he responded with a nice shot-fake and driving dunk early in the second half. But Leon has become valuable enough to the Gators where he needs to be smarter in avoiding foul trouble. His two quick fouls in the second half increased his total to four for the game with 15:57 left and the score tied at 40. With Leon on the bench the next six-plus minutes, Texas A&M went on a 14-7 run, extending its lead to 54-47 before Leon returned.

— At what point does White consider keeping junior point guard Kasey Hill off the floor in the final five minutes because of his poor free throw shooting and decision making? Hill did come up with a putback in transition to cut Texas A&M’s lead to 67-63 with a minute remaining, but in two prior trips down the floor had a pair of missed free throws and a wild drive that resulted in a poor shot attempt. Those were possessions the Gators couldn’t get back in a tight game. “A lot of decisions go through your head, late in a game,” White said. “I’m not sure what the right ones are. A guy steps up and makes two big free throws for you, then it was the right decision.”