December 6, 2017
UF came out even colder than Monday night’s loss to Florida State, finishing 2-for-19 from the 3-point line.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — And you thought Monday night was bad.
Before laying out the gory details, just get a load of junior guard Jalen Hudson‘s state-of-the-Florida-basketball-team summation following Wednesday night’s unfathomable 65-59 home loss to Loyola Chicago.
“This is as low as we can get. We have to change everything,”said Hudson, who was flummoxed when asked to pinpoint what’s happen to the Gators in the past 10 days. “It’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things, and it’s on us completely. We’re not ready to play. We don’t start the game ready to play. We don’t finish the game. We don’t hit shots and we’re not guarding. Guards aren’t guarding, bigs aren’t guarding — no one is doing anything.”
Instead, the guys facing the Gators are doing it all,, and that now includes the Ramblers, out of the Missouri Valley Conference, who were in control of this one from virtually the opening tip. Forward Aundre Jackson scored 23 points, going 10-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-3 from distance, helping Loyola seize command, set the tone and ultimately finish off Florida before 9,012 zombies at Exactech Arena/O’Connell Center.
Remember the UF team that hit 100 points in four of its first five games? Remember the version of the Gators (5-3) that lost a heartbreaker to No. 1 Duke in the prestigious PK80 out in Oregon, but came home with its head in the clouds, averaging an NCAA-best 99.5 points per game, shooting 48 percent overall and a sizzling 46 from the 3-point line?
That’s what made Monday night’s depressing 83-66 blowout loss to rival Florida State so surprising, and what made this latest gut punch — Coach Mike White‘s first regular-season defeat against a non-power five conference — so thoroughly depressing, as the fifth-ranked Gators (5-3) dropped a third straight by struggling on both ends of the floor.
“We’re not a very accountable team, right now,” White said. “We’re a team that’s been told for about two months how good we are, and it’s been at an all-time high the past 10 days. Hopefully, we’ve been humbled a little bit. We have guys who got a lot of accolades who have scored a lot points who cannot put the ball in the basket right now, and their other deficiencies are very glaring right now. None of that is a surprise to our staff.”
The Ramblers (9-1) shot 52 percent, with freshman center Cameron Krutwig the latest opposing big to have a highlight night at UF’s expense. He came in averaging seven points and six rebounds, but finished six of 10 from the floor, scored 14 points, grabbed eight boards, dished three assists and had three steals. Forward Donte Ingram hit his team’s other three 3-pointers, as Loyola finished 6-for-12 from deep.
The Gators, meanwhile, shot 36.9 percent and went a dreadful 2-for-19 from the arc (10.5 percent), with their top three scorers — Hudson, forward Egor Koulechov and guard KeVaughn Allen — a combined 9-for-35 overall and one of 13 on long balls.
No Florida player scored in double figures. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza led UF with nine points, five rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes.
What in the world has happened to a team that with 10 minutes left had a 17-point lead on Duke, but has now been outscored by a combined 43 points in the 90 minutes since?
“I have no idea. If I did I’d share it with you and we’d be able to fix it,” said Hudson, who finished 3-for-11 and missed all five his 3-pointers, including one with a minute to play when UF trailed by two. “It’s embarrassing.”
And a tad bizarre, especially the inability to hit shots.
This is the squad that went up and down the floor and hit big shot after big shot in a 111-105 double-overtime marathon defeat of Gonzaga in the PK80, then jumped all over Duke two days later before a late-game collapse.
The collapse continued in an all-out assault by the Seminoles, who came into the O’Dome and completely dominated two nights earlier, especially in the paint and on the glass.
Loyola was not FSU.
At least, the Ramblers weren’t supposed to be.
“We didn’t come with any energy,” third-year sophomore forward Keith Stone said.
The other guys did.
The Ramblers hit 10 of their first 13 shots, and 11 of the first 17, on the way to jumping in front 27-14. The Gators slowly chipped away at the lead, drawing within three at halftime, and going up by a point, 39-38, when Kevarrius Hayes (5 points, 5 rebounds) stole a pass and went the length of the court for a go-ahead dunk at the 16:58 mark.
That lead lasted about 25 seconds, as Krutwig grabbed an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession and scored on a stick-back to give the lead back to Loyola, which it never gave back.
“We were just focusing on trying to get to their shots and contest them,” Loyola coach Porter Moser said. “They are such dangerous shooters when they space the floor. They did have some good looks, so we were fortunate that they didn’t get going on us.”
The Gators had their chances, for sure. Despite trailing by seven inside four minutes to go, UF twice had the ball late trailing by two points. The first time, Hudson missed an open 3 just under a minute remaining. With just over 20 seconds to go, Allen drove the right side of the lane, elevated and kissed a high shot off the glass that rimmed out. Hayes was there to tap it in, but officials waved off the goal for basket interference.
Backup guard Cameron Satterwhite hit four free throws, his only points of the game, in the final 15.9 seconds to hand the Gators their first home loss to a mid-major program since a 71-68 overtime defeat versus Jacksonville on Dec. 20, 2010.
“I thought we responded well [Tuesday] in practice and played as hard today as we’ve played,” White said. “It’s not our strength, right now, physicality, getting in a stance, getting stops and stringing together stops. It’s not who we are right now. Two games in a row we needed it to be because we couldn’t find the hole [on offense]. If it hasn’t sunk in with our guys now, I don’t know that it will.”
Worth noting: It needs to, cause there’s still a whole bunch of games to play.