Texas Southern guard PJ Henry (3) and forward John Walker III (24) scramble for the ball against Florida guard Myreon Jones (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Texas Southern Stuns Florida At Home

The Florida Gators suffered an embarrassing 69-54 loss to the Texas Southern Tigers on Monday.

The Tigers entered the game 0-7, and the Gators were 26-0 in program history against teams from the SWAC. It was also the first win by a SWAC team over a ranked SEC team in the AP Poll era.

Texas Southern outplayed Florida in every facet and the Gators were unable to bounce back from their loss to Oklahoma last Wednesday. The loss drops the Gators to 6-2 and likely out of the Top 25 next week.

Coach Mike White said the Gators had a bad practice on Sunday that left the coaching staff with concerns about Monday’s game. Colin Castleton said that the bad practice carried over and contributed to Monday’s poor effort, while White summed it up perfectly.

“We were thoroughly outplayed,” White said. “We were a step behind for 40 minutes.”

Lack Of Effort Kills Gators

The Gators entered the game allowing just 53.8 points per game but their defense looked all over the place on Monday. The 69 points they allowed was two points shy of the season-high 71 they allowed last Wednesday.

Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones said the Tigers were focused on beating the Gators on backdoor cuts and it worked to perfection. Texas Southern shot 54% from the field and 45% from three, while they were 17-26 on layups and scored 42 of their 69 points in the paint.

“Starts on defense,” Florida guard Brandon McKissic said, “and that’s where our frustrations start.”

The Gators pride themselves on being stout defensively and their effort Monday left them stunned. The Tigers out-rebounded, outplayed and out-hustled the Gators and Florida was the first to admit it. Castleton said nobody played as hard as they should have and a lot of their struggles were in focus areas.

“Everything that we talked about before the game is what we did bad,” said Castleton.

The Tigers dominated the Gators on the glass grabbing 46 rebounds which were twice as many as Florida. On top of that, Texas Southern had 14 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points. The Gators had just eight offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points.

Castleton, who was averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, led the team tonight with just five and pointed to effort as the biggest issue in Monday’s game.

“Everybody didn’t play as hard as they should have,” Castleton said.

Somehow, the Gators won the turnover battle 22-10 and still managed to lose by 15 points.

Offense Shows No Signs Of Life

It was another offensive struggle for the Gators as they barely managed to score 50 points. Even worse, opponents were averaging 73.7 points per game against the Tigers coming in and no scored under 60.

The Gators shot 38% from the field, 21% from three and even worse was their stunning 44% from the charity stripe. They made just six of their 13 layup attempts and just five threes.

After McKissic hit his first two threes to start the game with 15:21 left in the first half, the Gators did not hit another three until 9:57 left in the second half. Tyree Appleby followed a 2-10 effort from range against Oklahoma with an 0-6 on Monday.

The Gators simply never got going on offense as they only led for seven minutes and 52 seconds. Once Texas Southern took a 16-15 lead they never looked back.

Florida’s largest lead was six and they never even threatened the Tigers once they got out in front. The run that killed the Gators was when the Tigers scored nine unanswered in the last 4:18 of the first half. They built a ten-point lead that turned out to be insurmountable and the Gators had no response.

The Gators had just two players in double figures and only three scored five points or more.

Florida will look to bounce back from Monday’s debacle against North Florida on Wednesday. Coverage begins on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF at 6:20 p.m.

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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