Florida head coach Mike White yells to his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas at the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

White and Gators Searching for Answers

Florida men’s basketball’s loss to Mississippi State was the epitome of Mike White basketball on both ends of the spectrum. All shots falling, suffocating defense and a big lead followed by cold shooting and a soul-crushing scoring drought.

It resulted in the team’s third straight loss. The first two are forgivable but Tuesday night left a bad taste in one’s mouth. The Gators are looking for a way to remedy their recent ailments.

“Our guys have been able to compete at a high level at different parts in the season and so we have to figure out how to do it all the time or we’re going to continue to see this result,” Head Coach Mike White said after the loss.

What Do the Players Think?

Freshman guard Scottie Lewis said the team doesn’t let a win or loss affect them too much. They’re never too high or too low.

“Every game is a winnable game, it’s based off us. I think college basketball this year is kind of a coin toss, whoever plays more and wants it more is the team that’s going to win,” he said.

When it came to keeping spirits up after losing three straight, Kerry Blackshear’s message was simple: get better.

Blackshear on the key to turning it around:

What Happened To the Defense?

People aimed their complaints at the offense when the season started. That’s seen a turnaround as Florida shot at least 44 percent in six of its last seven games. Now, its defense is breaking down.

Florida averaged 62 points prior to the New Year. Since 2020 and the SEC schedule started, the Gators average 74 points allowed. That 12-point difference added five whole points to their entire season average to 67.

When the first half ended on Tuesday, White was pleased with the team’s offensive play. But still had a concern it wasn’t sustainable especially with what he called a C- minus first half defensively. State went into the locker room shooting 48 percent from the field and 57 from three.

They upped those two efficiencies to 60 and 60 while Florida was a measly 29 and zero in the last 20 minutes. White couldn’t even grade that defensive performance.

“I’ve done a poor job with this team defensively to say the least,” White said Tuesday night.

According to Lewis and Blackshear, focus is a common denominator in this defensive lapse. Blackshear stated keeping focus and intensity at high levels throughout the game is a part of maintaining consistency throughout the entire 40 minutes.

Florida’s schedule relaxes over the next week or two as it faces four straight teams outside of the NET Top 75 rankings. But, with the situation they’re in, the Gators can’t relax one bit. It’s more important than ever to focus up.



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