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Florida Basketball

Instant Analysis: Gators gave No. 10 Michigan State all they could handle

December 8, 2018
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The Florida Gators (5-4) dropped a close on Saturday afternoon against the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans, losing 63-59. The Gators fought till final buzzer, but couldn’t overcome the balanced performance turned in by the Spartans.

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WHAT WENT WRONG: The Gators battled with the Spartans the full 40-minutes, but couldn’t come up with enough to overcome Michigan State. The Gators kept things close and threatened with taking the game over, but was too inconsistent on offense to get the win.

There were times when the Gators were forcing looks offensively, particularly in the first half that may have come back to bite them. As the Gators forced bad shots at times, the Spartans worked the ball around on offense until they found the best look and capitalized.

WHO STOLE THE SHOW: The Gators have struggled to contain opposing teams big-men in the paint and that was once again the case against the Spartans. Nick Ward was a force down low for the Spartans offensively, finishing with 13 points, scoring 9 of those in the first half.

Xavier Tillman, another Spartan big man, was also effective down low. Tillman finished with 14 points and capitalized on Ward’s presence as the Gators didn’t have an answer for the Spartans big-men duo.

For the Gators, Andrew Nembhard showed once again he can play despite only being a freshman. Nembhard finished with 13 points and led the Gators charge back into the game to make things interesting.

THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE: Had the Gators shot nearly as efficiently as the Spartans did, the result of Saturday’s contest would’ve likely been far different.

The Gators finished shooting 36% from the field, whereas the Spartans shot 51%. As the course of the season goes on the Gators find themselves in big games, they need to turn in better shooting efforts to win big games like today’s verse the Spartans.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida head coach Mike White has always stressed the importance of his team’s play defensively and the Gators have played good enough defense to win games. What’s costing the Gators games is the team’s inability to score consistently. The Gators have struggled mightily on offense at times, particularly in half-court situations.

The Gators shot just 29% from the field in the first half, including a 3-of-13 shooting performance from beyond the arc. The Gators were once thought of as a team that can shoot the three-ball, but the Gators are not shooting consistently enough from deep the rely on the 3-pointer as much as they do. As the conference season is just around the corner, the Gators need to work out their offensive struggles.

UP NEXT: The Gators will get a much-needed break from the action after a week against two marquee programs. The Gators will next face the Mercer Bears on Dec. 18 in Gainesville as they’ll continue their non-conference slate of games for 2018.

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