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Thursday, May 19, 2022
<p dir="ltr"><span>Florida guard KeVaughn Allen leads the Gators in scoring this season with 12.7 points per game. He is averaging 17.8 points per game in conference play.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Florida guard KeVaughn Allen leads the Gators in scoring this season with 12.7 points per game. He is averaging 17.8 points per game in conference play.

 

The Florida men’s basketball team can best be compared to a seesaw this season, with its offense on one side and its defense on the other.

The Gators are shooting well when the offensive side is highest, like when guards KeVaughn Allen and Noah Locke combined for 15 three-pointers against Texas A&M on Jan. 22, but that usually comes at the price of its defense. The Aggies dropped 71 points in that game, well above UF’s average of 61.5 points allowed.

The same goes for when the seesaw is the other way around. UF tends to forget how to shoot when it puts an added emphasis on its defense. Just look at the TCU game from Saturday, where the Gators scored 50 points but held the Horned Frogs to 55. That’s the sixth-lowest amount scored by an opponent this season.

Florida hasn’t found that middle ground, that perfect balance where it can play strong defense and still shoot the ball well. It will need to if it wants to escape its upcoming stretch of tough SEC games, starting with 14-5  Ole Miss tonight.

“Sometimes we really execute. Sometimes our execution fails us a little bit,” UF coach Mike White said. “That’s where our focus is right now in terms of ourselves in addition, obviously, to the Ole Miss Rebels.”

That seesaw favors the offensive side when the team executes. The Gators are second in the SEC in three-point attempts (503) and, as a result, are second in made three pointers. When they make their shots from deep, where most of their offense runs from, they win their games without having to rely on defense.

That won’t be the case against Ole Miss.

The Rebels average 77.7 points per game and hold opponents to 69.4 points per game. They are a threat all over the court both offensively and defensively. On average, they out-rebound and out-assist their opponents, and they have a higher three-point shooting (.365) and field goal (.480) percentage than the Gators do.

A lot of the credit for Ole Miss’ shooting goes to guards Breein Tyree (17.3 points per game), Terence Davis (15.8) and Devontae Shuler (9.5).

“They’ve got one of the best backcourts in the country,” White said. “Shuler is much improved and the other two are potential all-league guys, both of them, potential pros.”

If Florida wants to beat Ole Miss, it’ll need to balance the seesaw, where the offense and defense are playing at nearly the same efficiency. It'll need players like Kevarrius Hayes, Keyontae Johnson and Dontay Bassett to step up defensively under the basket, while Locke and Allen continue to score at a high level.

“I said, ‘Guys, if you want to play postseason, if we want to have a winning record ... if you want to have a chance to play in the NIT, play in the NCAA Tournament, we’ve got to win some of these games, guys,’” White said. “It’s not just going to happen if we don’t take it, if we don’t capitalize, if we don’t execute offensively and defensively.”

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

Florida guard KeVaughn Allen leads the Gators in scoring this season with 12.7 points per game. He is averaging 17.8 points per game in conference play.

 

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