Florida
Hannah White/Florida Gators

Florida Looks To Rebound From First Loss

Florida Gators men’s basketball returns to the floor tonight to take on the Texas Southern Tigers.

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The Gators are looking to bounce back after their first loss of the season last Wednesday to Oklahoma. Florida is 6-1 to start the season and had jumped from unraked to number 14 in the country last week. They fell to 20th in Monday’s rankings following the loss.

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Meanwhile, the Tigers come in seeking their first win of the season. They have faced a difficult schedule to start the year and sit at 0-7 as they enter Monday’s game.

Gators At A Glance

Florida’s hot start to the season is fueled by their defense. The Gators are holding opponents to just 58.3 points per game to start the season and have opponents under 70 points in each of their victories. The one time the Gators let a team go over 70 was in Wednesday’s loss to the Sooners.

The Gators ranked 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to the popular college basketball analytic rankings KENPOM. Their defensive efficiency rankings are based off points per 100 possessions in which Florida is allowing 90.1 For reference, Houston is ranked first in that stat at 87.5 points per 100 possessions.

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The Gators’ 58.3 points allowed per game this season ranks 16th in the country and second in the SEC. Of possible concern is that opponents’ 40.6 FG% against the Gators is 113th in the country. While it is top half in the country, it is not among the elite teams that the Gators rank among in other defensive statistics.

The reason that the Gators are holding opponents to such low scoring is their slow pace on offense. According to KENPOM, Florida is averaging 69.2 possessions for 40 minutes, which is 144th in the country. For reference, Houston is the fastest team in the country at 87.5 possessions per 40 minutes.

The slow pace helps the team defensively by limiting opponent’s opportunities to score . While it has benefitted the defense, it is limiting their offensive potential. The Gators’ 75.4 points per game ranks 121st in the country and their 43.2 FG% is 223rd.

However, KENPOM suggests the Gators offense is quite efficient. Florida is ranked 27th in offensive efficiency with 111.3 points per 100 possessions, which ranks fourth in the SEC. If the Gators played at a higher tempo, their offensive statistics may look more impressive.

Time To Bounce Back

Florida played an uncharacteristic game which led to their loss against the Sooners. They were not good on either side of the ball and it cost them against a quality opponent.

The Gators were shockingly poor on the defensive end, allowing a season high 74 points to Oklahoma. The Sooners’ shot 49.2% from the field, which was the second best percentage by a Florida opponent this season.

Texas Southern is shooting just 38% from the field this season, so the Gators have no excuse to not get back to their normal ways on defense.

The Gators failed to score more than 70 points for the first time this year against Oklahoma. It was their worst offensive performance of the year and it started with sloppiness. The Gators turned the ball over 16 times, three more than their season average.

They also struggled shooting the ball, shooting 42.1% from the field and an appalling 16.7% from three. The good news for Florida is the Tigers are allowing 73.7 points per game and struggle mightily defensively. They rank 210th in KENPOM’s defensive efficiency rankings and the Gators will need to capitalize.

One way to get the offense back on track is for Tyree Appleby to get back in a groove. The Gators’ shooting guard is shooting 45.5% from three on the year, but was just 2-10 from deep against Oklahoma. If his threes can start falling again the Gators should roll to victory.

Coverage beings Monday on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF at 5:25 PM.

About Ethan Budowsky

Ethan Budowsky is a fifth-year telecommunications student at the University of Florida. He covers Major League Baseball for Just Baseball Media and previously covered the Miami Marlins for their SB Nation affiliate, Fish Stripes.

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