Up by two with less than five minutes remaining against Arkansas State, the Gators pushed hard up the court. As the play developed, sophomore guard Delicia Washington received a long outlet pass but stepped out of bounds. Turnover.

The Gators committed three more turnovers in the next minute and a half in Tuesday night’s 70-69 loss to the Red Wolves.

Coach Cameron Newbauer said UF has to do a better job passing and hauling in rebounds if it wants to beat No. 17 Florida State tonight at 7 at the O’Connell Center.

Despite Washington committing a game-high nine turnovers against Arkansas State, Newbauer refused to throw her under the bus. He said a lack of communication played a large role in many of his team’s giveaways.

“Turnovers are a team concept,” Newbauer said

Former Florida coach Amanda Butler’s teams were haunted by giveaways. In her last season at UF, the Gators committed 18.8 turnovers per game. That’s about one turnover every two minutes, a big reason why Butler was fired after the end of last season.

Newbauer’s squad hasn’t fared any better in its first two games. The Gators are averaging 19 turnovers per game after committing 23 Tuesday night.

“I think we were just nonchalant with our passes,” redshirt junior Funda Nakkasoglu said. “We seemed afraid.”

The Gators also struggled to rebound against the Red Wolves. Arkansas State grabbed 20 offensive boards which resulted in 18 second-chance points.

“They outfought us,” Newbauer said. “Now we gotta learn and grow from it and get better. And if we don’t, then shame on us.”

FSU comes into Gainesville after two blowout wins to start its season. The Seminoles cruised through a 109-51 victory against North Florida and a 75-51 win at Jacksonville State. They won both games after forcing 32 combined turnovers and snatching 35 offensive rebounds.

Aside from turnovers and defensive rebounding, Newbauer stressed the importance of starting out strong. Florida was down 8-0 to Georgia State in its season debut and trailed Arkansas State by as many as six in the first quarter.

“I don’t know why we’re not more enthused and excited,” Newbauer said. “But I do know this: Nobody cares about us. Everybody that comes in here doesn’t care about us. Florida State does not care about us.”

You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at mmcmullen@alligator.org.