Florida basketball score, takeaways: Historic shooting woes doom Gators at Texas A&M

By OnlyGators.com Staff
January 18, 2023
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Historic shooting woes doom Gators at Texas A&M

Image Credit: UAA

One of the worst 20-minute shooting performances in program history again put Florida Gators basketball in a significant deficit it had to overcome in the second half. Ultimately, a surge over the game’s final period was not enough as Florida fell 54-52 to the Texas A&M Aggies.

The defeat was the Gators’ fourth straight against the Aggies, and it came with the visitors trailing by 11 at halftime after posting the worst offensive performance in a half since 1966 by scoring just 12 points to start the game. Florida shot 7.7% from the field, making just two field goals while at one point missing 13 straight shots over nearly 13 minutes.

It marked the third straight game and fourth time in the last six contests that the Gators either got outscored 7-0 from tip off or trailed by double digits in the first half. In fact, the 11-point deficit was the same margin Florida trailed Texas A&M by in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, a game the Aggies won by three points.

The Gators will now have to regroup once again as they attempt to make a late push for postseason basketball after their worst start tot eh season since 1995-96. Let’s take a look at what went down Wednesday night with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … redshirt senior guard Myreon Jones air-balled a well-defended heave 3-point attempt on a possession that began with 2.5 seconds remaining. It was an exceedingly poor inbounds play, which was surprising given there were two timeouts in which to draw it up. That followed after a wild sequence that saw redshirt senior forward Colin Castleton rejected under the hoop down three, Texas A&M immediately score on a fastbreak, Jones bury an off-balance 3-pointer and the Aggies turn the ball over down two points.

Florida opened the second half with a 12-2 run, making more baskets in the first 3:06 of the period (three) than it did in the entire first half (two); in doing so, its deficit fell to three points with 15 minutes left to play. The Gators followed that with a short 5-0 stretch to pull within two, a disadvantage they maintained with 1:14 remaining. After Texas A&M missed a floater, grabbed an offensive rebound and made two free throws to move ahead four points, Jones missed consecutive triples, though a second offensive board allowed freshman G Riley Kugel to drain a trey, bringing Florida within a single point as 29.6 ticks remained. TAMU made two gimmies to push its lead back to three prior to the finishing sequence.

First half focus: The Gators’ string of poor offensive starts continued for a third straight game, though this one saw Florida fail to make field goals rather than struggle to put up points at all. And it resulted in an absolutely horrendous offensive performance that was nearly record breaking. UF opened 1 of 21 from the field and 1 of 11 from 3-point range, at one point missing 13 straight shots over 12:44. It finished the period just 2 of 26 from the floor, making just 7.7% of its attempts for its fewest points scored in any half since 1966. The Gators somehow trailed by just 11 at the break as the Aggies only made one triple and were held without a free throw in the period.

Exceptional efforts: Castleton scored 13 of 20 team points during a key stretch in the second half, finishing with a team-high 14 points (5/10 FG, 4/5 FT) with 13 rebounds for another double-double. He also swatted six more blocks but remained a turnover machine with four giveaways. No one else on Florida could be considered a high-level contributor as Jones’ 10 points came on 3 of 12 shooting, though he did have three steals. Castleton and Jones were the only players to make more than two baskets in the contest.

Odds and ends: Florida was swept by Texas A&M for the third time since 2016 (one 2022 meeting came in the SEC Tournament) … the Gators are now 9-9 all-time against the Aggies with four straight losses … Florida trailed for the entire game, never holding a lead (39:19) … despite UF’s struggles, its defense was superb holding TAMU to 35.5% from the field, 18.8% from downtown … Florida is now 2-5 when trailing at halftime, 0-7 when trailing with 5:00 left, 2-6 when being outrebounded and 2-7 when shooting worse than 45% FG

Sophomore G Kowacie Reeves finished 0/5 FG and is now 1/11 FG over the last two games, 10/41 FG (.244) across five games in 2023 … sophomore F Alex Fudge finished 2/11 FG with eight boards and three dimes … redshirt senior G Kyle Lofton and sophomore G Will Richard each went 2/8 FG with 10 combined rebounds

What it means: Just when the Gators found some answers while rolling on a three-game winning streak, more questions arose with it being stomped out. Such as: Why is Florida consistently unable to score in the first half, and why is it that much better of a second-half team? It’s one thing for a roster without familiarity to play like this early in a season, but with the 2022-23 campaign having passed its midway point, there’s no excuses for the consistently poor level of play to open games. Particularly when Golden inserted Jones into the starting lineup in an attempt to kick start the offense that completely backfired.

What’s next? The Gators will remain on the road for their second straight game, which is actually the start of a stretch in which they play five of seven games away from home. Florida will next visit Mississippi State on Saturday in a game that will tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET and air live on SEC Network.

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