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Preview: Gators Host North Florida After Rocky Trip to Atlantis

After a disappointing Battle 4 Atlantis that saw the Florida men’s basketball team drop two of their three tournament games, the Gators will try to right the ship against North Florida at home.

Gators Look for Improvement

Offensive Struggles

Sitting at 3-3 on the season, the Gators have shown some serious struggles in their three losses. They have not been able to score the ball with much consistency thus far. Florida is averaging just 67.3 points per game on 44.1% shooting and 31.6% from beyond the arc. They are hitting just 65% of their free throws. They are struggling to move the ball and have had a difficult time finishing plays as well.

The Gators have recorded just 73 assists this season to go along with 68 turnovers. Florida’s offense heavily relies on ball movement and motion, but they have gotten very stagnant at times. They have one player averaging more than 10 points per game: reserve Deaundrae Ballard. Moving forward, the team has to focus on ball movement and creating easier opportunities to score. The talent is there, but the team’s offensive execution needs work.

Late-Game Struggles

In their last two losses, Florida has struggled in the final minutes of close games. Against Oklahoma, the team scored just 10 points in the last 7 minutes and 43 seconds of the game. They went scoreless for the final 2:22 despite being down by just 3 points for the majority of the closing minutes. In the loss against Butler, the Gators led 45-44 with 11:14 left. They would then score just 9 points for the remainder of the game and lose 61-54. In both games, the Gators were in striking distance but failed to execute down the stretch. North Florida will give Florida an opportunity to practice their offensive sets.

Spinning Rotation

Head Coach Mike White has certainly been changing around his rotation in response to the team’s early struggles. Jalen Hudson, who led the team in scoring last season, has seemingly fallen out of the team’s rotation. He’s down to just 18.2 minutes per game this season and has played just 21 combined minutes in the last two games. Freshman Noah Locke replaced Hudson in the starting lineup, and it seems that he will stay there for the time being. Mike White is emphasizing earning minutes through defense and hustle. Whoever is producing and playing with the most energy will be on the court. Against North Florida, White will likely send out a starting lineup of Nembhard, Allen, Locke, Hayes, and Stone. It will be interesting to see how many minutes the team’s freshmen play over veteran players such as Hudson.

What to Expect from the Ospreys

The North Florida Ospreys currently sit at 2-4 on the season. They have three players averaging double digits: Noah Horchler, Garrett Sams and J.T. Escobar. Horchler, the Osprey’s leading man, is putting up 14.4 points per game and 11.2 rebounds. The Ospreys, like the Gators, have struggled with their offensive execution. They have totaled a whopping 91 turnovers through six games. If the Gators come out with a level of defensive intensity and energy they are capable of, they should be able to force North Florida into plenty of turnovers and gain an advantage in transition. The Gators defeated the Ospreys 108-68 last season and forced 17 turnovers in the win. Florida held Noah Horchler to just 10 points and 4 rebounds and limited Garrett Sams to 1 point on 0-8 shooting. Look for Florida to come out focused and ready build some confidence as they feed off their home crowd.

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