Florida guard Lavender Briggs had the look.
She crossed over to her left hand towards the baseline and pulled up for a mid-range two. It was a chance to cut into a steep 27-12 deficit for the Gators.
Mississippi State collected the rebound and booked it up the court as it did a lot of the night. MSU guard Xaria Wiggins caught an aerial pass around the rim and put it up with her right hand.
It made it 29-12 in favor of the Bulldogs. And that sequence epitomized a rough night for Florida women’s basketball (9-5, 0-1 SEC) game against No. 15-ranked Mississippi State (13-2, 1-0 SEC) in Starkville, Mississippi, on Thursday night. When the final buzzer mercifully sounded, UF had lost to MSU by a score of 93-47.
The struggles for Florida started and ended with shooting. With an undersized team like the Gators, it is imperative to shoot well from outside. That was certainly not the case against the Bulldogs.
UF shot 28.8 percent from the floor and 18.8 percent from three. Pair that with 50 percent shooting from the free-throw line, and it presents a night where Florida almost had its point total doubled. Mississippi State guard Jordan Danberry and forward Rickea Jackson had 41 points combined, almost out-scoring Florida by themselves.
That's all part of the learning and growth process that we have to keep fighting through,” coach Cam Newbauer said. “This is tough, it stings and it should."
Another issue for the Gators all night was the inability to create ball movement and get multiple players involved. A 21-turnover night with only five team assists meant only two players, Briggs and guard Kiara Smith, in double-figure scoring at 15 apiece.
The next highest scorer was Kristina Moore, who was only 2 for 7 from three and 2 for 10 from the floor.
Forward Zada Williams was next behind Moore on the scoresheet. She is UF’s only legitimate inside presence and she had a forgettable game on a night she needed a memorable one for Florida to stay competitive. She finished with only four points, going 1 of 6 from the field and 2 of 4 from the free-throw line.
A huge let down for the Gators in the game was guard Ariel Johnson. The sophomore who averages eight points a game was blanked in Starkville. She was 0 for 4 from the floor, 0 for 1 from beyond the arc and 0-2 from the charity stripe.
It was obvious throughout the night that Florida was overwhelmed by a superior team. Match that with a poor shooting performance against a hostile crowd, and the game was already ugly early in the second quarter.
"That's SEC basketball, that's one of the best teams in the league,” Newbauer said. “We have a lot of players that have never seen that and we tried to prepare them for it. It's tough to simulate a team like that. “
The Gators have an opportunity, however, for a quick turnaround. In three days they’ll play Vanderbilt in Gainesville for their first SEC home game of the season.
Follow Graham on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF and contact him at [email protected]