Florida experienced a jaw dropping and astonishing loss on Saturday night. The Gators came into the game on the heels of back to back SEC wins, including the 17 point comeback at home against Alabama.
Missouri, meanwhile, entered Saturday winless in SEC play and frankly, as a dismantled team. Everything seemed to point to the Gators bringing home a third consecutive win, and finally some traction on the season.
However, this was not the case. Florida continued its rollercoaster year, and this loss was about as ugly as it could be. This year Florida has tended to play to their competition, playing well against Butler and Utah State but looking like a different team against Towson and Missouri.
The following are a few keys that led to Florida’s embarrassing loss in Columbia.
The Florida defense looked like it had no answer for the Tigers’ offense. Missouri came into the contest averaging five threes a game, but hit twelve on Saturday.
Missouri was 10th in the SEC in 3 point percentage coming into the game, averaging a mere 30.5% from behind the arch. However, the Tigers shot a scorching 75% (12-19) on Saturday.
This wasn’t necessarily a product of their shooters being better tonight than any other night. This was the pure lack of self awareness on defense leading to open threes all night long. This is something Florida cannot get comfortable doing, as defense has been the constant that has kept the Gators in basketball games, not take them out of them.
It wasn’t just the deep ball that hurt the Gators. Missouri shot 61.5% from the field as a whole. They came into the game second to last in the SEC in this department averaging just 42.6%. Most came from uncontested lay ups and put backs from clearing box outs.
Missouri was able to tie a season high in scoring, the other team being Chicago State. That’s right, UF gave up as many points tonight as a 4-11 Chicago State allowed. Missouri was barely averaging 66 points this season. Had Florida played even average defense, this game probably ends in the Gators’ favor.
Florida struggled from the field tonight, which when coupled with terrible defense, you see the result.
It seems to happen far too often, but Florida opened the game 1-10. The Gators shot 38.5% from the field Saturday, far lower than their 43.9% average on the year.
The Gators also turned the ball over 14 times tonight, leading to break away lay ups for Mizzou all night.
Florida was simply out schemed Saturday. There is no way around this, Missouri’s game plan was better than Florida’s and their players executed their game plan to a higher level than the Gators did. This isn’t coach speak, it’s factual.
Missouri constantly ran high ball screens early in the shot clock and cut through the middle of the Gators defense like a hot knife through butter. Florida on the other hand would routinely run the clock down and had too many players sitting on the perimeter waiting for their chance to jack up a contested jumper from 18+ feet.
Florida had no response to anything Missouri did on offense. No way around the fact that the Gators couldn’t stay on their man. On the other hand, Noah Locke was the only Gator player that shot over 50% tonight. Missouri did exactly what they needed to to slow the Gator offense down (though Florida habitually likes to slow down the tempo, anyway).
On the bright side Florida will be back in action twice this week, both at home where they will have the opportunity to right the ship and keep pushing towards the NCAA tournament.