No. 5 Florida is not going to be No. 5 Florida for much longer.
On Wednesday night, the Gators lost their third-straight game and, for the second time this week, took a loss in the O-Dome. Loyola-Chicago – a good Missouri Valley team but a Missouri Valley team nonetheless – jumped on the Gators early and held onto their lead throughout, winning 65-59. Florida had a chance to tie with less than 20 seconds left, but a tip-in by Kevarrius Hayes was waved off as goaltending.
The issues plaguing Florida during these last two games are almost too obvious to write: They are not good when they cannot make shots from beyond the arc. Prior to Monday night’s 17-point home loss to Florida State, the Gators were shooting 46 percent from three while firing up 25 threes per game. In that game, Florida was 6-for-25 (24 percent) from three.
Against the Ramblers?
The Gators shot 2-for-19, or a cool 10.5 percent.
Florida has not been great defensively this season, but when you’re getting nearly 35 points a night by hitting threes, it not only mitigates that lack of stops but it gives the Gators energy. In the PK-80 – and, frankly, in the games they played prior to the event as well – Florida was must-see TV. They were getting out in transition. They were shooting rhythm threes in transition. They were brimming with confidence because of what they were doing offensively and that translated to more effort on the defensive end of the floor.
It sounds like a cliché, but I honestly do believe that has played a role in these recent lackluster defensive performances.
What we’ve learned in the last three days is that the Gators are not as good as we thought they were when they jumped out to that 17-point lead on Duke.
But I also don’t think they’re as bad as the team that just lost at home two games in a row and that will lose four straight if they can’t find a way to beat No. 17 Cincinnati on Saturday.
Mike White’s job is now to find that happy medium, find a way that they can be competitive with the best teams in the country on the nights when they don’t make 17 threes.
And if he can’t, then Florida is going to end up being one of those teams that can quite literally beat anyone on any given night and lose to anyone as well.