Instant Analysis: Another slow start dooms Florida

Feb 4, 2023 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Florida lost the momentum they had gained by beating No. 2 Tennessee as Kentucky suppressed the resurgent Gators in the second half 72-67.

Inside the Gators’ Instant Analysis takes a quick look at how the game unfolded.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: It’s not a stretch to say that the beginning of the first half meant the end for the Gators in Lexington. Kentucky came out of the locker room shooting 7/7 after missing their first three shots.

Ultimately, it was a game of anything the Gators could do, the Wildcats could do better as Kentucky suppressed the resurgent Gators in a second half punctuated by a six-of-eight run that brought the Gators within one possession with a minute to go.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: Cason Wallace stole the show tonight for the Wildcats as his 20 points on 7/10 shooting, including a perfect 5/5 from the free throw line, gave Kentucky the lopsided matchup it needed against Florida’s inconsistent guards.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: Not to be repetitive but it was all lost in the first half for the Gators. In what has been a season of slow first halves, excluding the win over No. 2 Tennessee, this one might hurt the most.

The reality is that the season’s most important three-game stretch read No. 2 Tennesee at home, Kentucky on the road, and a trip to No. 2 Alabama. After a brilliant start to the make-or-break three-game schedule, the Gators just simply couldn’t afford to shoot 17% from the field with seven turnovers to boot. Tonight, it’ll cost them the game, but the repercussion on the season could be far worse with the big dance in sight.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: It was always going to be Colin Castleton Vs. Oscar Tshiebwe in the trenches in this one. The two big men put out a game representative of the duality of the bigs in the SEC.

Castleton finished the game as its leading scorer with 25 points on 9/16 shooting, outscoring Tshiebwe by 21. Tshiebwe owned the glass tonight as he took 15 rebounds home in the win, seven more than Castleton.

In the end, Tshiebwe’s four points, and his absence in the last two minutes of play after fouling out, would not mean the game for the Wildcats as the Gators came away with an “A” for effort on the night.

WHAT A PLAY: The duality of Myreon Jones: A Gators Classic. In the dying embers of the game, the sight of Jones’ signature high-arching shot gave Florida fans time to see their season sail through the air at Rupp Arena. But with 38 seconds to go, the gamble would pay off as Jones aced and brought the Gators within three in crunch time, punctuating the effort absent in the first half from Golden’s men.

UP NEXT: The Gators travel to Tuscaloosa to face No. 4 Alabama in what has to be the end to one of the hardest four-game successions of the season with tip-off set for 9 P.M.

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