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Thursday, October 28, 2021
Keyontae Johnson
Keyontae Johnson

The Gators looked hungover.

An early start on the road against a bottom-tier team turned out to be the last thing UF needed on Saturday.

Florida came out flat at The Pavilion and the Rebels took advantage.

Ole Miss held Florida to 33 percent shooting from the field and controlled the tempo for most of the contest. Point guard Breein Tyree led all scorers with 23 as the Rebels handed the Gators their fourth SEC loss of the season, 68-51.

Offensively, Florida (14-9, 6-4 SEC) failed to execute for most of the game.

The Rebels (12-11, 3-7 SEC) gave the Gators headaches, swarming Florida defensively and building a double-digit lead that ballooned to as many as 13 midway through the first half.

UF shot just 34.6 percent in the first 20 minutes and struggled from beyond the arc, connecting on just three of 11 attempts.

Forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. led all scorers in the first half with nine points and five rebounds.

Despite the disappointing performance on the offensive side of the court during the first half, the Gators were down just six at the half.

Tyree's presence on the court for Ole Miss was the X-factor in this matchup.

The senior missed the game in Gainesville when these two teams last met, and his team suffered without him, losing 71-55.

He had 12 first-half points, going 5 of 8 from the field.

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The Gators did a great job of cutting the lead down to one possession early in the second half, but the basket was sealed shut after the quick start.

UF scored just 20 points in the final 19 minutes of the game, shooting only 32 percent in the second half.

Forward Keyontae Johnson was Florida's only positive in the latter half, scoring 13 of his 16 points to keep the Gators in contention.

However, Johnson's teammates went missing in action. The rest of Florida's team combined to score 11 points in the second half, including two-point performances by guard Andrew Nembhard (five points and three assists for the game) and Blackshear Jr. (11 points and six rebounds).

The Gators were careless with the basketball, coughing up 15 turnovers that the Rebels cashed into 16 points. UF's focus wasn't there, and its performance on offense was concerning.

At a point in the year where Florida needs to be fine-tuning itself for the postseason, the Gators are still searching for their identity.

Without one, Florida's NCAA Tournament hopes will continue to suffer.

Follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak. Contact him at elepak@alligator.org.

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