Florida’s defense was the culprit as much as anything as the Gators (12-7, 3-4 SEC) gave up 48 points after the game was tied at the half to drop a road match against Ole Miss (10-9, 2-5 SEC) on Monday night.
But this was about a team that was desperate for a win against a team that looked like it was not the same one that played its way back to .500 in the league play and off the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Ole Miss was without one of its starters Jarkel Joiner, but guards Matthew Murrell and Daeshun Ruffin combined for 41 points.
Florida gave up the first eight points in the second half before coming back to tie the game at 32. Not much went right after that for UF.
By the 10:42 mark, Ole Miss led by 10 and Florida never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Particularly disheartening was a lob dunk when Ole Miss inbounded the ball with one second left on the shot clock.
“You yell switch, you gotta switch,” Mike White said. “We continue to struggle with adversity. It’s not the sign of a great team obviously.”
From there, the Rebels just kept increasing their lead.
The Gators were tied at the half at 22 despite going 7:43 without making a field goal and missing several point-blank layups.
The game was made up on a rare Monday night SEC contest because of a postponement back in December.
The Gators will play Ole Miss again later in the season.
Player of the game: Ole Miss
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This has to go to two guys instead of one. Murrell and Ruffin destroyed the Gator defense with their quickness and shooting. Ruffin had 21 points and Murrell had 20. They combined to make 14 of 25 shots.
Player of the game: Florida
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Well, don’t blame Jason Jitoboh for this one. The Florida center made every shot he took. He only took six and finished with 12 points to go along with five rebounds. He also stayed out of foul trouble until late in the game. “I played OK,” Jitoboh said. “I could have done more on defense and rebounding.”
Inside the numbers
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Mike White talked before the game about shooting threes with confidence. This game won’t do much to help that. Florida was 4-of-29 shooting from beyond the arc and – even though it was a small crowd in Oxford – freshmen Kowacie Reeves and Elijah Kennedy combined to miss all nine 3-point attempts they tried.
What it means
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Florida came in with three straight wins and a renewed energy. Ole Miss came in with four straight losses.
Those things flipped in an awful second half for the Gators.
He said it
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“To give up 22 points in the first half and 48 in the second half, I’m not sure I have ever been a part of that. I’m very disappointed in our defensive effort. You’re either locked in or you’re not.” – Mike White.
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The Gators don’t get to come home, instead, traveling to Knoxville (after practicing in Oxford Tuesday) for a game against the 18th-ranked Tennessee Vols on Wednesday. Tennessee is 13-5 and 4-3 in SEC games. The Vols have not lost at home this season, winning all 10 games at Thompson-Boling Arena.
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