GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 23 Florida Gators (15-8, 6-4 SEC) dropped their second consecutive SEC game Saturday evening, this time at home against Alabama (15-8, 6-4 SEC), 68-50. Gators came out strong to start the game, they forced 14 turnovers and led the entire first half.
“I was really proud of our first half defensively, it’s as hard as we’ve played this year, fourteen turnovers, great activity, watched mistakes at halftime, there were a lot less mistakes. I thought we were really good defensively. The only conversation at halftime was to maintain that level of intensity and attention to detail and take it to another level” said Florida Head Coach Mike White.
Florida continued with that intensity for about the first two minutes of the second half, then things changed. Alabama took their first lead of the game and didn’t look back. Florida was outscored 41-17 in the second half.
“We had a lack of focus; we didn’t buy into guarding them and we came out with no
energy. It’s pretty frustrating because I know the players are mad, I know the coaches are
mad, I know the fans are mad, so we just have to turn it around and get better” said Forward Keith Stone, who finished with 12 points in the loss.
Their defensive struggles open up a clear lane to the basket for the Crimson Tide. Alabama finished with 46 points in the paint, more than half of their 68 total points.
“Credit Alabama of course, they really get out on transition offense. They really run the
floor and get out quick” said Coach White.
“The guards can get to the rim, but I think that with my team, when we’re playing with a lead and when we’re making shots, we defend at a different level. There’s no excuse for that. We’re in February doing the same thing, it’s really unfortunate.”
Moving forward, the team says they have to do a better job of buying into the game plan, and actually sticking to it.
“It’s not that we don’t trust each other but we just don’t buy in to what we are trying to
do right now. We had a good game plan and we did everything pretty much the
opposite way of it” said Guard Egor Koulechov.
Next up for Florida, a match-up against LSU at home. Coach White says he believes his team will learn from the Alabama loss, and gain momentum from the adversity.
“I don’t anticipate us not coming to work on Monday focused and ready to go as we
were in the first half today.”