Basketball

#22 Gators give gift of victory to Clemson with inexcusable collapse

FINAL: CLEMSON 71, FLORIDA 69

1st 2nd OT FINAL
CLEMSON 33 38 X 71
FLORIDA 40 29 X 69

SUNRISE, FL- Let’s just face facts. Right now, the Florida Gators are not a good basketball team. This team is incredibly undersized with 7’0 center John Egbunu sidelined. Many of Florida’s players, while athletic, are playing out of position. Guard Egor Koulechov is playing the power forward position against guys three to five inches taller and with 20-30 pounds on him.

Despite these obvious observations, Florida should have defeated the Clemson Tigers on Saturday. The Gators held a nine point lead with less than five minutes left in play. Instead of cruising to a fast finish, Florida fell apart. Clemson went on a 14-3 run to finish the game. Florida missed a number of open looks in the final five minutes, but also had some possessions that were just plain mismanaged. You certainly expect more from a senior point guard who has had a knack for making ‘clutch’ baskets in his career.

Yes, the officiating was terribly slanted. How one team can get into the bonus less than seven minutes into the half, while the other still hasn’t with only 10 seconds remaining is beyond me. However, no matter how bad the officiating was, it doesn’t change the fact that Florida was LEADING BY NINE POINTS IN THE FINAL FEW MINUTES BEFORE FALLING APART.

While it’s absolutely ridiculous for fans to call for head coach Mike White’s job (seriously, check social media), it is abundantly clear that White and his staff need to make recruiting a big man a top priority. Clemson had way too many points in the paint. And, this game was one of the better defensive efforts from Kevarrius Hayes.

KEY PLAY: Clemson was behind by one point when KeVaughn Allen threw up a prayer of a three point attempt with the shot clock running out. The ball was rebounded by Marcquise Reed who threw a full-court length pass to a streaking Elijah Thomas, who slammed the Tigers into the lead. The possession by Florida pretty much summed up the final few minutes for the Gators. Clemson made the move to a 1-3-1 zone, and Florida seemed unable to adjust.

Jalen Hudson finished with a game high 23 points for Florida, including the Gators first eleven points of the game. Senior guard Chris Chiozza finished with 14 points, and Kevaughn Allen finished with 12. Keith Stone (6-8, 245 lbs) started at center, but played very limited minutes due to foul trouble. Stone finished the game with 3 points and 3 rebounds while Hayes finished with 2 points and 5 rebounds off the bench. Koulechov led Florida with nine rebounds while Chiozza and Allen each finished with three assists.

Reed led the Tigers with 22 points while Gabe DeVoe added 19 more to the effort. Elijah Thomas finished with a game high ten rebounds for Clemson.

Florida will face James Madison on December 20th in Gainesville. Florida has lost four of their last five outings and it appears very likely that the Gators will fall completely out of the Top-25 after this blemish, amazingly just two weeks ago this team was ranked #5 in the country. Doesn’t it seem like that was ages ago?

RECORDS:

  • CLEMSON: 9-1
  • FLORIDA: 6-4

Team Stats:

CLEMSON FLORIDA
FG % 51 41
3-PT % 46 42
FT % 67 53
Offensive Rebounds 7 15
Total Rebounds 33 35
Assists 11 8
Steals 7 7
Blocks 5 2
Turnovers 15 11

What’s Next:

Florida will take on Jame Madison on Wednesday in Gainesville. The Dukes are 3-8 this year and face Florida International Saturday night. Last Sunday, JMU fell to Richmond 74-71. Guard Stuckey Mosley (a legit scoring threat) finished with a game high 25 points in the loss for the Dukes.

Florida vs James Madison

December 20, 2017

7:30 PM / Exactech Arena

SEC Network

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