Avenging an early-season loss in Gainesville, Florida convincingly defeated Carolina this evening at Colonial Life Arena. The final score was 79-60. Erving Walker's hot shooting led the Gators with 25 points, while Bruce Ellington led Carolina with 14.
As with Vanderbilt last weekend, the story in this game was our inability to stop Florida's high-flying offense. Our offense continued to show some signs of life, but the defense that was keeping us in games early in the season seems to have disappeared just as we're starting to score enough points to win games. The Gators scored on us in just about every way possible. Early in the game, it was Vernon Macklin scoring at will on the block. Later on, Walker, Chandler Parsons, and Kenny Boynton combined to drain several treys. All of that added up to 79 points on 55% shooting and 44% from long range. It's hard to get too upset about the long-range shooting, as we lack anything resembling the kind of personnel needed to play strong perimeter defense, but I would kind of like to know where our formerly formidable defensive interior has gone. Perhaps we need to be giving Damontre Harris and Johndre Jefferson a bit more playing time.
With our second straight ugly loss, it might be time to concede that this team was probably a bit lucky to pull out some of our early-season wins. When all of your significant wins have been nailbiters and many of your losses blowouts, it could mean that you overachieved a bit in the wins. Not much was expected from this team coming into the season, and we may be starting to see why as it progresses. What we have to hope is for the team to get it together a little bit, pull out a few more wins, and earn an NIT bid. That would be a success at this point and in line with what we saw as achievement in the pre-season.
A few more quick thoughts:
- I'm honestly beginning to have reservations about running so much of our offense through Ellington. Although he again led us in scoring, he at the same time again shot for a low percentage. He's definitely hit a bit of a rough spot in his shooting, which makes me wonder if we shouldn't be looking elsewhere for scoring. I guess, though, we've been wondering all season why we're not working the interior, and this is in a sense only a part of that larger problem.
- Not to take anything away from what was undoubtedly a dominant performance from a solid team, but the Gators enjoyed some favorable officiating tonight. Early in the second half the foul ratio was something like 15-4 in their favor, and while it evened out a bit over the course of the second half, that seemed largely due to make-up calls and the like. Florida also got some eyebrow-raisers on loose balls and tolerated traveling. Unfortunately, expect this to be the norm as we wrap up the season against the ranked teams in the East.
Next up is UGA. Be sure to check out Dawg Sports for UGA hoops coverage in the interim.