It’s tough to win basketball games when you can’t shoot very well.
And yet, Florida sits at 10-5 two weeks into conference play.
Saturday’s 68-62 home win over LSU was the Gators’ latest piece of evidence that they don’t need to have stellar — or even decent — offensive statistics to win games, or at least keep them close.
Take Dec. 12, for example. Florida was in East Lansing, Michigan, taking on the then-No. 1 Spartans.
Mike White’s Gators shot 33.3 percent from the field, including 22.2 percent from beyond the arc. Typically those numbers, combined with playing the No. 1 team on the road, don’t result in a six-point loss in a tight, competitive game. But that’s what Florida managed: a 58-52 loss.
It still stands as the least amount of points Michigan State has scored this year.
Fast forward to Saturday against the Tigers. Freshman Ben Simmons and the LSU offense came to town averaging 84.3 points per game and shooting 47.8 percent, both Southeastern Conference bests.
In the game, the Gators shot 24-for-63 and 3-for-18 from downtown. Florida won, holding the Tigers to their second-worst shooting game of the season (35.7 percent) and second-lowest point total.
The Gators are scoring 72.8 points per game. Their 41.4 percent field goal shooting, 28.3 three-point percentage and 61.6 percent free throw rate all rank last in the SEC. But again, Florida is 10-5 and 2-1 in conference play.
White said the Gators’ shooting is mediocre, for now.
He knows the numbers and he’s seen the box scores, but he also believes as long as the Gators’ team defense and energy level remains high, they will continue to give themselves a chance to win.
"If I knew how to get (high energy) every single time, we’d be a better team," White said on Saturday.
"We talked about how the energy level at Michigan State was off the charts. I was extremely proud of that effort in that game…talking to (the team), continuing to show them film of how good they can be with their energy level and how poor that we’ve been at times."
Florida’s loss to Tennessee last Wednesday was a low point for the Gators.
White said after the 83-69 blowout that there were virtually no positives to be taken from the team’s low energy and low enthusiasm.
It was a typical shooting performance, 34.3 percent. But without the high level of effort that White has been preaching, Florida stood no chance in the conference road game.
"We just came out with a lot more energy today," Chris Chiozza said after Saturday’s win. "I don’t know if it was because it was a home game or because we just came out prepared. But we came out with a lot of energy and we were able to maintain it the whole game."
Its defense is holding its own and its offense is struggling. However, the wild card factor, especially in away games, is Florida’s energy level.
"As a staff, we’ve ramped it up the last couple days," White said.
"When you know the biggest factor and the biggest concern is your energy level, coming into the game (against LSU) … in this one it wasn’t as much a concern about schemes as much as it was how hard we’re going to play, because I knew if we didn’t fix that factor from our last performance (at Tennessee), I knew we wouldn’t have a chance."
Follow Alex Maminakis on Twitter @alexmaminakis
UF guard Chris Chiozza shoots a three-pointer during Florida’s 68-62 win over LSU on Jan. 9, 2016, in the O’Connell Center.