One by one, the basketballs sailed through the air, launching off the fingers of UF shooters from all over the court.
And one by one, the shots bounced off the rim. Again, again and again, until one somehow fell through the net, and the cycle began anew.
Both the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles put up performances they’d like to forget, but FSU managed to stagger to a 63-51 victory at the O'Connell Center. Florida suffered its sixth-straight loss to FSU with the defeat.
Neither team fared well in the first half.
The Gators (1-1) and the Seminoles (1-1) both posted shot percentages below 30 percent (22 percent for UF and 25 percent for FSU). On top of that, UF fouled FSU 12 times, and FSU took advantage by scoring 12 points off of free throws, which accounted for 48 percent of the 25 points they scored. The three-point percentages were even worse: Florida shot 9 percent from beyond the three-point line, while Florida State managed a marginally better 11 percent.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. was UF’s leading scorer in the half, but he managed it entirely on free-throws, putting up six points. He would continue the trend in the second half, and he ended the game with 10 points despite going 0 for 5 from the field.
“We know there’s a lot of things we have to work on,” Blackshear Jr. said. “Playing that game makes it more evident for us. It can be a big wake-up call.”
At the end of the half, the Seminoles led the Gators 25-21, though Florida did take a small victory by leading FSU in rebounds (22-20).
The second half was a different tale for the Seminoles. For Florida, it was more of the same.
Florida State came out of the locker room far more polished, opening the half on a 4-0 run and extending the lead from there. With about nine minutes to play, the Gators were 3 of 13 from the field while FSU was 9 of 17.
FSU never lost its lead it held out of the half, with its largest lead coming in at 14 points.
Anything the Gators did was in vain. Sophomore Keyontae Johnson was the leading scorer, putting up 19 points.
After the game, Johnson singled out an issue that numerous Florida players have harped on over the past few weeks: communication.
“We gave up a lot of wide-open threes towards the end,” Johnson said. “It was just a lack of communication.”
Florida finished 28 percent from the field – 18 percent from three – and committed 16 turnovers. In comparison, Florida State finished 36 percent of the field, 29 percent from three and only had nine turnovers.
The Gators won’t have too long to mull over their loss, however, as they’ll be back in the O’Connell Center to face off against the Towson Tigers on Thursday. But it's not just the players that'll work on improving their game. Coach Mike White said he has to improve his, too.
“More than anything, I’ve got to do a better job of putting these guys in position offensively,” White said.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells. Contact him at [email protected]