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Gators Struggle Late in Loss to Butler

The Florida Gators struggled on both ends in the second half in their 61-54 loss to the Butler Bulldogs. Andrew Nembhard led the Gators with 11 points, seven assists, five rebounds and no turnovers in 36 minutes of action. Deaundrae Ballard contributed 11 points, while Kevarrius Hayes added nine points and six boards.

Kamar Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in a game-high 37 minutes. Paul Jorgensen added 16 points and seven rebounds on 6-12 shooting including 3-6 from beyond the arc.

Tale of Two Halves

The Gators had everything going in the first half and jumped out to a 32-27 lead. They shot 7-15 (46.7%) from three and assisted on eight of their 10 made baskets.

Nembhard was able to get into the lane with relative ease and continuously find the open man. He had five assists in the opening frame and nailed all three three-pointers that he attempted.

The Gators’ full-court press didn’t create many turnovers but it put a lot of pressure on the Bulldogs and forced them to get into their sets later in the shot clock. Florida limited Butler to 27 first-half points including 10-26 (38.5%) from the field and 4-13 (30.8%) from beyond the arc.

It was all Butler in the second half. They outscored the Gators 34-22 in the final frame. Baldwin (13 points) and Jorgensen (12 points) combined to shoot 9-14 (64.3%) from the field and outscored the Gators alone. The Bulldogs owned the interior, scoring 16 points in the paint.

The Gators struggled mightily after the intermission, shooting 8-28 (28.6%) including an abysmal 1-12 (8.3%) from three. They struggled to create anything against a stout and disciplined Butler defense.

The Bulldogs were consistently forcing the Gators into tough, contested shots and didn’t give them many easy opportunities. Florida failed to capitalize on these easy opportunities, missing five foul shots and numerous uncontested looks around the rim.

Final Thoughts

Jalen Hudson continued his season long struggles and seems to be in Mike White’s dog house. He only played 14 minutes and finished with two points on 1-5 shooting.

Deaundrae Ballard continues to shine on both ends. He scored 11 points and has now produced double-digit scoring in four of their six games. He still takes some ill-advised shots and has the occasional defensive lapse, but it is evident that he has earned himself a significant role in Mike White’s rotation.

Andrew Nembhard is the most impactful player on this team. His playmaking ability is elite and his basketball IQ is off the charts. His defense is strong and is an above-average shooter and rebounder. Mike White has never given a freshman this type of responsibility, but Nembhard is more than equipped to handle it.

What’s Next?

The Gators will finally head home after playing three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis. They will host the University of North Florida on November 27th at 7:00 p.m.

About Cobi Silverstein

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