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Thursday, May 19, 2022
<p dir="ltr"><span>The Florida men's basketball team's last four games have all come down to the final minutes, with the Gators escaping with just one win. "(We'll) continue to improve," White said.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

The Florida men's basketball team's last four games have all come down to the final minutes, with the Gators escaping with just one win. "(We'll) continue to improve," White said.

 

It has been the same story over and over again for the past two weeks.

The Florida men’s basketball team is leading in the final minutes of the game. Then, it just falls apart. That’s it.

Hardly any field goals made, a bunch of unnecessary fouls and defensive collapses, and when the buzzer rings out, the Gators are on the losing-end.

It happened against South Carolina on Chris Silva’s dunk. It happened against then-No. 3 Tennessee when the the Volunteers scored nine points in the last 44 seconds.

It happened on Tuesday against Mississippi State when Quinndary Weatherspoon made an and-one layup with four seconds left.

So what will it be when UF plays against Georgia on Saturday in Athens?

“(We’ll) continue to improve, shore up some mistakes down the stretch,” Florida coach Mike White said. “You know, it wasn’t a missed blockout, it was a missed assignment in a 1-3-1, it was not holding your seal offsensively. Turnover, pick-six.”

Both teams are eerily similar on paper.

They each hold a 9-7 record, are 1-3 in SEC play and are 4-4 in their last eight contests.

It should be an evenly matched game, but the biggest differences between these two teams are how those games went down.

Florida has played four consecutive contests down to the wire, only escaping one with a win. It was arguably a play or two away from being undefeated in that stretch. It couldn’t hold on to the lead long enough to pull out the victory, nor could it make those last-second, game-winning shots.

White had the same message for his team after each of those loses.

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“I’m not sure we have much frustration,” White said on Monday. “I’m not sure how important it is, and if there is it’s not communicated. Trying to muster up the competitiveness. I’d rather our guys get really ticked off; I’d rather them get ticked off at me.”

He might see that frustration boil over against the Bulldogs.

Georgia is coming off a two-loss span in which it was blown out by at least 15 points against both Auburn and Kentucky. It was held to just 49 points against the Wildcats, well below its season average of 74.5 points per game.

The Bulldogs are having an identity crisis on offense, similar to what the Gators are going through this season.

Forward Yante Maten was UGA’s leading scorer last season with 19.3 points per game. He has since graduated, and this season, the Bulldogs haven’t had anyone truly step up and fill Maten’s role.

They have three players averaging double-digits — forwards Rayshaun Hammonds (13.4) and Nicolas Claxton (12.1), and guard Tyree Crump (10.1) — but none of them are producing on the same level as Maten.

If Florida is going to snap this funk it has been in, its best chance will be against Georgia on Saturday. Some players know that it’s just a matter of time until they end that streak of mediocracy.

“At the end of the day, we’re not that old of a team,” forward Dontay Bassett said. “So, I mean, a lot of things come with experience and come with just going through things and learning from your game. So, I think the team’s handling it well, taking it well.”

Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

The Florida men's basketball team's last four games have all come down to the final minutes, with the Gators escaping with just one win. "(We'll) continue to improve," White said.

 

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