When the Florida men’s basketball team isn’t hitting shots, things get ugly.

And fast.

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After a promising first half against Alabama on Saturday, the Gators struggled to attack the Crimson Tide in the final 20 minutes, resulting in an ugly 68-50 home loss.

Once again, it started with ice-cold shooting.

 

Second-half offense sputtering for Florida

In each of the Gators’ last five SEC games, they’ve failed to score more points in the second half than they did in the first.

Saturday’s game against the Crimson Tide was no different. After putting up 33 points in the first 20 minutes, Florida dragged offensively in the second half, scoring just 10 points at one point over a 13-minute span.

Overall, UF — which came into the game third in the SEC in scoring at 79.8 points per contest — only put up 17 points after halftime.

“We had a great game plan coming in,” guard Egor Koulechov said. “And we did pretty much everything the opposite way.”

The consistent misses allowed Alabama to get more confident on the opposite end, eventually giving itself a double-digit lead after trailing for the entire first half.

The Crimson Tide made necessary second-half adjustments, exploiting the interior with 30 points in the paint.

“We had a healthy sense of respect for Florida,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “We had the appropriate fear, we knew if we didn’t play well or get back in transition, that this team is capable of hitting 14 three pointers.”

A similar situation took place on Tuesday against Georgia. The Gators scored 32 first-half points, but managed just 28 in the second half and looked anemic on offense down the stretch, missing 18 of their final 21 shots.

The ongoing issue is impacting the game immensely, and the team seems to have no clear answer.

“We’ve got to find other ways to score other than a catch-and-shoot three,” Florida coach Mike White said. “So it’ll continue to be a point of emphasis… maybe look at different lineups, I’m not sure.”

White Still Working with the Lineup

Redshirt junior guard Jalen Hudson started his 10th game of the season against the Crimson Tide after coming off the bench for the previous six contests.

More than two thirds of the regular season is complete, but White continues to make minor adjustments in the starting lineup whenever he deems necessary.

The Gators enjoyed the benefits of an having an energetic scorer off the bench lately in Hudson, who leads the team with 15.7 points per game.

However, the team needed its top offensive threat in the opening lineup after struggling to consistently score against Georgia.

“The biggest decision was just to start our best offensive lineup,” White said. “I thought we got off to a good offensive start as well, we just didn’t maintain that energy.”

A continuing development for the team will be what White chooses to do with his lineup.

Bringing Hudson into the starting five eliminated almost all of Florida’s scoring off the bench.

Overall, the Gators’ reserves were outscored by Alabama’s reserves 29-1. The lone point came via a free throw from freshman guard Mike Okauru in garbage time.

“Couldn’t get it going, we’ve gotta get more production there,” White said. “Obviously when you start Jalen [Hudson] instead of him being your sixth man, that’s gonna show up in the scoring as well.”

After Hudson, the main scorer off the bench this season is freshman guard Deaundrae Ballard, who averages 4.9 points per game.

Ballard hasn’t cracked the five-point mark since Jan. 2 against Texas A&M.

White will need to consider the costs of tweaking the starting lineup, as well as what needs to be done to change the team’s overall makeup.

“The identity of this team is very frustrating,” White said. “We’re not very tough and we pride ourselves on shots and points more so than anything else.”

Follow Skyler Lebron on Twitter @SkylerLebron and contact him at slebron@alligator.org.

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