Florida vs. Oklahoma score, takeaways: No. 14 Gators fall apart, suffering first loss of season

By Adam Silverstein
December 1, 2021
Florida vs. Oklahoma score, takeaways: No. 14 Gators fall apart, suffering first loss of season
Basketball

Image Credit: OU_MBBall / Twitter

Just two days after being elevated among the top 15 teams in the nation, No. 14 Florida Gators basketball suffered its first loss of the season, falling 74-67 to the Oklahoma Sooners at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. The Gators dropped to 6-1 in the season after getting off to their best start since 2012-13.

Though Florida did lead briefly in the second half, the game never felt close. Oklahoma jumped out to an early lead with the worst few minutes of basketball UF played all season, and there was never a time in which it felt like the Gators might pull ahead in their first road game of the season.

The end result was a difficult defeat to swallow but not a wholly unexpected one given the circumstances. Florida is still off to its best start under head coach Mike White, and it has an opportunity to get right with four days off before its next game.

What went down Wednesday night as UF disappointed with its first loss of the season? Let’s take a look with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when: Oklahoma went on an 11-2 run, breaking a 54-54 tie, to lead by nine as Florida went 0 for 7 from the field over an 8:08 stretch. This came in large part due to mind-numbing play from senior guard Tyree Appleby, who did not let his teammates touch the ball over a key stretch. Appleby did bounce back with consecutive 3-pointers as part of an 8-0 run to bring Florida back to down by two with 1:58 to play, but he chucked three more poor shots and coughed up another turnover down the stretch with UF again going cold over the final 1:58.

Appleby was not solely responsible for the loss, but his play in the second half was atrocious, and the lack of ball movement (seven assists on 24 baskets) was apparent with him holding the rock. Oklahoma succeeded in slowing Florida’s offense down significantly due to strong defense and controlled offense. That prevented fastbreak opportunities as the Sooners simultaneously frustrated senior forward Colin Castleton by getting him in foul trouble and playing him tough on him in the paint.

First half focus: Florida got off to a horrific start Wednesday, trailing 9-0 as it missed its first three shots and committed five turnovers in just 3:17. However, the Gators used runs of 8-0 and 6-0 to get back in the game and eventually led late in the opening period before ultimately trailing by one at the break. Castleton and redshirt senior G Phlandrous Fleming Jr. were nearly UF’s entire offense in the first half, combining for 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting.

Exceptional efforts / poor performances: Fleming finished with 17 points and six rebounds but missed all three of his shots in the second half. Castleton posted a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards but struggled with six turnovers, only went 1 of 3 in the second half and looked completely out of sorts throughout the game, including once passing the ball to a teammate on the bench. He did add four blocks to his stat line. Appleby simply tried to do too much too often. He started 0 of 8 from the field and finished 2 of 12 (2 of 10 from downtown) with three turnovers and a plus-minus of -9 in a team-high 36 minutes.

Odds and ends: Florida committed 16 turnovers, including 10 in the first half and five in the first 3:17 … the Gators only led for 1:21 and never had an advantage greater than two points … UF only had two fastbreak points … the Gators are now 2-2 all-time against the Sooners, 1-1 on the road … UF scored a season-low 67 points and is now 21-51 when scoring less than 70, 34-50 when allowing 70+ under White

What it means: This was a tough loss for a Gators team that has proven to be plenty talented throughout the season and finally achieved some national recognition with a top-15 ranking. That is a common occurrence for Florida basketball over the years: getting ranked high and immediately losing. It was a tough spot for UF on the road against a talented OU team with momentum, but the Gators have no one to blame for the loss but themselves. From the shooting problems (lack of ball movement, shot selection) to coaching decisions (allowing Appleby to continue running the offense) to simply poor play by key starters, Florida never looked like it was going to win the game even when it took the lead a few times early in the second half.

UF was never going to go undefeated this season, and a road loss like this will not hurt its NCAA Tournament resume one iota. The hope should be that White uses it as motivation for a team that may have been feeling itself a bit after an extraordinarily strong start to the season.

What’s next? Florida gets a bit of a breather and an opportunity to regroup with consecutive home games against non-power opponents. The Gators won’t play again until Monday when they host Texas Southern at 6 p.m. ET in a game that will only air on SEC Network+; however, they will also host North Florida two days later before ending the week with a difficult neutral-site game against Maryland on Sunday.

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