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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Home loss disappointing, but shows Florida has talent to make run

Look no further than Patric Young for an indication of how Gators fans should feel after Ohio State smacked Florida 93-75 in the O’Dome on Tuesday night.

UF’s super-talented, highly recruited five-star freshman turned in an uninspired two points and two rebounds against the Buckeyes, which is nothing to feel accomplished about.

But Gators fans should take solace in the fact that at least they have a Patric Young, a physical big man who can come off the bench, rebound and give a defensive presence once he develops.

Young, like the Gators as a whole, is nowhere close to what he could or should be yet. But here’s why Gators fans should feel encouraged after watching their team get blown out by the No.4 team in the country: Florida’s flaws are fixable.

Since the ‘04s left in 2007, UF’s biggest problem has been something that you can’t change in the middle of a season — a lack of talent.

Coach Billy Donovan hasn’t had the players to make a deep NCAA Tournament run since Joakim Noah and Co. left Gainesville. Until now.

The way Florida lost bodes much better for the fate of its season than if the Buckeyes had squeezed out a 68-65 win with both teams shooting relatively poor.

UF and OSU both shot over 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.

And in the end, it was the Gators’ inability to keep the Buckeyes from getting easy buckets when they broke the Gators’ press or got penetration from their wing players, coupled with turnovers, that did them in.

Is that fun to watch happen to your team as a fan? No.

But it’s a helluva lot better than knowing that no matter what your team does, it doesn’t have the talent to compete, a feeling that many Gators fans have rightfully had over the last three seasons.

This team has the talent.

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The defense and press will get better.

Florida was a great defensive team a season ago and only got deeper and more athletic.

More importantly, these players want to play defense and understand that’s what will win them games.

Maybe it was hard to imagine while watching Young play Tuesday, but the freshman has a chance to mature into a great player. Just like Florida has a chance to mature into a great team.

And that’s a chance Gators fans should feel great about, even after a blowout loss at home.

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