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Monday, August 15, 2022

Florida’s late-game struggles continue in loss to Michigan

Before the Gators begin winning games consistently, they must learn to finish.

Florida (5-3) was just 7-10 in games decided by 10 points or fewer in 2011-12. On Saturday, the Gators dropped another close contest.

Despite taking a 32-27 lead into halftime, Florida lost 59-53 to Michigan. The Gators struggled to close out possessions and, ultimately, the game.

"(Michigan likes) a low-possession ball game, and we didn’t do a good job defensively of maintaining our focus," coach Amanda Butler said. "We would put a lot of pressure on them, and then we would have a breakdown with 10 seconds left (on the shot clock)."

Michigan’s methodical offense was troublesome. Florida botched assignments deep into possessions. Trailing in the second half, UF could not overcome the continual lapses.

"Those last 10 seconds (of possessions), your defense needs to get tighter and sharper," Butler said.

Assistant coach David Lowery added: "You’ve got to have great defensive rotation, communication, the whole nine because the way [Michigan] plays — constant movement, looking to spot up, looking to create opportunities for each other — I thought that was the difference in the game."

Lowery said the coaching staff stressed the importance of staying focused against the Wolverines’ deliberate offense. Evidently, that did not take hold. Michigan made 10 of 21 shots in the second half to reverse the halftime deficit.

Florida faded down the stretch. The Gators hit 8 of 37 shots in the final 20 minutes and scored a season-low 53 points.

Jennifer George scored a team-best 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds but was frustrated with Florida’s miscues. George said the Gators will continue to struggle if they don’t develop a focus that they lacked on Saturday.

"In the second half, there was not enough awareness and not enough intensity to contain [Michigan]," George said. "We just have to have more pride in our defense. Nothing is going to change unless our defense changes."

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