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Florida 81, Texas A&M 72

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We played well for large stretches, and even built a double-digit lead on the road. But Florida was too much down the stretch.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, this was an improvement.

I know that’s an indictment on this program, as one should rarely be excited about a game where you cough up a double-digit second half lead, but it adequately explains just how low we sank last week. A 1-17 SEC record, a string of blowouts, or even an outright mutiny seemed possible in the aftermath of last weekend’s awful home loss to Missouri, but last night at least gave us something to work with.

We came out of the gates strong, we carved open the league’s best defense for large stretches, and it took a truly otherworldly second half shooting performance by Florida to flip the script.

It wasn’t great… but it was better.

Box Score

Our Best Shooting Half Of The Season

I half-jokingly told you guys to watch this game with one eye open, and instead we were treated to our best 20 minutes of offensive play this season. I mean, take a look at these first half shooting splits

  • FG: 16-29 (55%)
  • FT: 7-10 (70%)
  • 3PT: 7-11 (64%)

And it wasn’t just that they were going in… we were working the SEC’s best defense for good looks, and we were doing it repeatedly. It honestly felt like we left last week’s crew behind and outfitted an entirely different group of people.

Shouts to Mitchell for his 17 first half points on 5-5 from behind the arc.

Halftime Score: Texas A&M 46, Florida 33

Florida Flips The Script

As good as our offense was in the first half, Florida’s was better in the second half.

The Gators hit an incredible 11 of 15 threes after halftime, led largely by Kevaugn Allen (31 points; 8-10 3PT) and Noah Locke (27 points, 7-13 3PT). They sprinted out of the gate with a 19-5 run to erase our first half deficit, and they pulled away with a flurry of threes in the last five minutes.

We…. returned to form in the second half, shooting 2-11 from beyond the arc and 40% overall. Seems like a shame that our incredible night of shooting happened to coincide with an equally incredible night by the opposition, but thems the breaks.

Final Score: Florida 81, Texas A&M 72

Additional Thoughts

  • Mitchell was the spark plug today, hitting 7 of 9 threes en route to a career-high 25 points. He chipped in four steals and four rebounds, and was generally our best offensive option on the floor.
  • Nebo may not be the starter, but he logged more minutes than Mekowulu yet again, this time getting 27 minutes to Mekowulu’s 15. He grabbed 8 points on 4-4 FG, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
  • Speaking of Mekowulu… where has he been? He has yet to record more than six points in SEC play, and we don’t appear to be too concerned with getting him the ball.
  • Starks played hard, forcing his way to the rim and absorbing contact on seemingly every other possession. He couldn’t draw a foul to save his life, and I have to imagine that’s frustrating. But on the other hand… his 0-4 effort from beyond the arc brings him to 1-19 over the last four games and 5-31 over the last six games. He’s found some success this year when he’s willing to pull up from 15 feet, and that’s something I wish he’d go back to more often.
  • Chandler has been quietly effective in conference play. He had 15 points on 7-8 shooting, which pushed his FG% in conference play to 15th in the SEC.

Overall Thoughts

It sounds dumb, and I know it sounds dumb, but last night was about proving that we hadn’t completely given up on the season.

We haven’t.

That’s good, but there are still a ton of improvements we can make. Namely, we need to scratch every play that ends in a three pointer that isn’t taken by Mitchell. He continues to be the only legitimate threat outside.

Next up is KSU in the Big XII / SEC Challenge. The Wildcats are flying high, and their defensive metrics are every bit as good as Florida’s, so we’ll need another special shooting performance if we want to bring home a victory.

BTHO Kansas State