Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators start slow, survive Marshall in second half

By Adam Silverstein
November 29, 2019
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators start slow, survive Marshall in second half
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Tell me if you have heard this one before: No. 24 Florida Gators basketball struggled shooting. The first half on Friday night against the Marshall Thundering Herd (2-4) was as bad as can be for Florida, but a surge coming out of halftime saw the Gators (6-2) rebound nicely to pull away with a 73-67 victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

After dominating the Charleston Classic last week, it appeared as if Florida was back to its inefficient ways in the O’Dome. While that was the case over the first 20 minutes, head coach Mike White hit the right buttons in the locker room and saw the Gators cruise toward victory. What went down on Friday night? Let’s peep some takeaways from UF’s fourth straight win.

It was over when … sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard hit a fadeaway jumper to give the Gators a four-point lead with 21 seconds to play. Following a key block by junior Dontay Bassett on the other end, UF added a couple free throws to slide to victory. Florida used a 13-3 run to take a game-high 13-point lead with 5:55 to play. Marshall immediately scored four straight, but the hosts were able to maintain a double digit advantage for the next few minutes. However, a late 9-0 run by the Herd — including a beautiful three-pointer and old-fashioned three-point play after a 10-second violation — suddenly cut the Gators’ lead to two with 42 seconds left.

Second half shine: Florida was abhorrent in the first 20 minutes, going 0-for-10 from three with no assists on nine baskets and six turnovers to boot. Its starters scored nine total points with graduate transfer forward Kerry Blackshear, sophomore F Keyontae Johnson and sophomore G Noah Locke combining to go 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown with two points. The second half was a different story altogether as the Gators’ starters combined for 39 points with the team shooting 4-of-8 from downtown. Blackshear (eight), Johnson (13) and Locke (10) combined for 31 of those points going 9-for-13 from the field.

Exceptional efforts: Freshman G Ques Glover saved the game for Florida, scoring a team-high 14 points, including 10 in the first half while all of his teammates failed to find the bottom of the basket. Glover made 5-of-9 shots, though he did miss two key free throws late in the game. Nembhard moved the offense in the second half after it was stagnant for the first 20 minutes, finishing with four assists to go along with his eight points, including the key jumper in the final seconds.

Odds and ends: Florida finished a game with four dimes or fewer for the third straight season; the Gators are, somehow, 3-0 in those contests … Nembhard was the only player with an assist on Friday night; he finished with four while Marshall had 12 as a team … Blackshear (five fouls) continues to struggle with miscues, committing 4+ fouls for the fourth time in eight games … UF held the lead for the final 13:33 of the game

What it means: It is nearly impossible to figure Florida out on a game-to-game basis. The Gators looked completely in sync during the Charleston Classic and then somehow, despite playing in the (supposed to be) friendly confines of the O’Dome, could not hit a shot in the first half and simply refused to play team basketball. When White insisted that Nembhard get the ball rolling in the second half, the offense was a bit more fluid, but Florida again blew a large lead in the final couple of minutes. Until the Gators find some consistency, this team cannot be trusted.

What’s next? Florida will have an entire week off to get right before it faces Butler next Saturday at noon ET. The game will air live nationally on FOX.

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