Andrew Nembhard

Andrew Nembhard

It’s beginning to become a pattern.

A much-needed win followed by a head-scratching loss.

A step in the right direction accompanied by an ugly step back.

That’s been the split personality of this team over the past month.

The Gators are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

Parity is in abundance, and if Florida is going to make the NCAA Tournament, that trend of play has to stop.

“You know, we’ve got a really good group of guys,” coach Mike White said at Monday’s media availability. “Good guys that will come in today with a great attitude, and they’ll be willing to work and ready to go.”

But, there’s a caveat.

“The immaturities have to decrease,” he said. “The amount of emotional moments have to decrease. Our level of consistency and stability, mental toughness, have to dramatically increase for this team to max out.”

Florida’s last six games of the remaining eight on its schedule provide a daunting task.

Four of those six are against teams currently ranked inside the KenPom top 35.

That’s why it’s essential for the Gators to mature, play up to their potential and dismiss the inferior teams that await on their schedule over the next three days.

Tonight, UF travels to College Station to face Texas A&M (11-11, 5-5 SEC).

The Aggies won’t be an easy out at home, where they’ve won eight of 12 games.

It doesn’t help that Florida is 2-5 in true road games.

Defensively, the Aggies will be disruptive, only giving up 63.1 points per game — good for 33rd in the NCAA.

“I think this A&M program, right now at least, extends more, pressures more,” White said. “They are very athletic. They play really hard...I think their ability to turn you over and block shots on the interior, being more disruptive.

“That’s the biggest change from how these teams were playing from last year to this year.”

UF’s defense has improved, but scoring on the road has been a challenge recently.

Against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, the Gators combined to average 56 PPG and shot an abysmal 37 percent (40 of 108) from the field in those two games.

A low-scoring affair looks to be on tap either way, similar to Florida’s 61-55 victory against Vanderbilt on Feb. 1. That’s because the Aggies only average 60.6 PPG, which is 342nd in the NCAA.

If the Gators can score into the 60s, they should secure a win on the road. Something that has slipped through their grasp more often than not this season.

“It’s pretty good,” forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. said, referring to A&M’s defense. “They’re holding teams to like 50 or 60 points a game...They stay connected. It’s pretty unorthodox the way they play, and I think that gives some teams trouble.”

Additionally, spacing and movement of the basketball may be an issue for the Gators if guard Andrew Nembhard can’t play. He injured his ankle against Ole Miss and has been limited in practice the past couple of days.

“Didn’t go yesterday, he’s sore,” White said. “We’ll just evaluate it today. I think he’s going to try to get some reps today. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to or not.”

Without Nembhard, Florida would have to rely on freshmen guards Ques Glover and Tre Mann to give the team some extra minutes.

Follow Evan on Twitter @evanmplepak and contact him at [email protected]

Evan Lepak is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida. Evan is the assistant sports editor and is currently covering UF men's basketball. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2018.