Mike White

Following Florida's 83-66 loss to FSU Monday night in the O'Connell Center, Mike White said the Gators struggled in transition defense, limiting turnovers and rebounding.

Alan Alvarez / Alligator Staff

Mike White sat silently in front of reporters Monday night, ruminating in disappointment.

Hours earlier, the UF men’s basketball coach had emphasized four key areas his team needed to succeed in if the Gators were going to beat Florida State: transition defense, limiting turnovers, rebounding and defending the pick and roll.

Florida fell short in the first three aspects, leading to an 83-66 home loss.

“Three F’s and an A,” White said. “Not a very good grade-point average.”

No. 5 Florida (5-2) has a chance to get back on track tonight at 8 when it hosts Loyola Chicago in the O’Connell Center.

White said the FSU game didn't surprise him or his staff.

The same issues Florida had against FSU, it had against New Hampshire on Nov. 19. The Gators had trouble limiting points in the paint and points off turnovers. And in both games, UF had no answer for its opponent’s top player. Despite Florida’s defensive struggles, it barely pulled out a win against New Hampshire. It wasn’t so lucky against FSU.

“This just happened to be a higher level, more talented version,” White said. “We’ve got to become way better on the defensive glass and defensive transition.”

White believes Florida needs to improve vastly on defense, and tonight’s game against Loyola Chicago gives his team an opportunity.

The Ramblers (8-1) are off to their best start since 1965-66 and are looking for their first win over a ranked opponent since 2009.

Senior forward Aundre Jackson leads the team in points per game (13.8) and field-goal percentage (.667), redshirt junior guard Clayton Custer leads in assists per game (4.3) and senior guard Donte Ingram is averaging a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.

While the Ramblers are on a roll, the Gators present a test as their only ranked opponent on the schedule.

White knows his team can’t overlook Loyola Chicago though, especially after the way it played on Monday.

“If we don’t learn from (Monday), then shame on us,” White said.

You can follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake, and contact him at [email protected].

Jake Dreilinger is the online sports editor of the Alligator and covers the University of Florida men's basketball team. He has previously covered baseball, lacrosse, men's and women's golf and women's tennis. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2015.