Sidelines with John Clay

Florida basketball’s funk continues with shocking home loss

Florida head basketball coach Mike White talks with forward Keith Stone (25) during the second half of the Gators’ 65-59 loss to Loyola of Chicago in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Florida head basketball coach Mike White talks with forward Keith Stone (25) during the second half of the Gators’ 65-59 loss to Loyola of Chicago in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Associated Press

What’s the old coaching adage about not letting one loss turn into two? Wednesday night, fifth-ranked Florida failed to take heed.

The Gators lost their second game this week, stunned at home by Loyola-Chicago 65-59. On Sunday, the Gators were blown out at home by cross-state rival Florida State 83-66.

Wednesday, Mike White’s team shot just 36.9 percent from the floor. It made just two of its 19 three-point attempts for 10.5 percent. Jalen Hudson, the transfer from Virginia Tech, missed all five of his shots from beyond the arc.

“We’re not ready to play,” Hudson said afterward, according to Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel. “We don’t start the game ready to play. We don’t finish the game. We’re not hitting shots. We’re not guarding.”

Meanwhile, Loyola-Chicago shot 52 percent from the floor, including six of 12 three-point attempts. The Ramblers led by 13 in the first half.

“I’ve done a very poor job with this team defensively,” White said afterward, according to Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. “We’re not very tough, and that starts with me.”

It was actually Florida’s third loss. The Gators lost 87-84 to Duke in the finals of its bracket of the PK80 Tounament in Portland last week. That was a game in which the Gators led the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils byt 17 points before succumbing to a Duke comeback.

Though a 16-point underdog, Loyola-Chicago entered Wednesday with an 8-1 record. The one loss was at Boise State 87-53 on Nov. 28. In their last game, the Ramblers rolled over visiting UIC 85-61. Kentucky beat that same UIC team 107-73 at Rupp on Nov. 26.

So what does this mean for the Gators? It means White’s club is currently in a funk, nothing more, nothing less. It made a stellar showing in the great Northwest, blowing by Stanford before that epic double overtime win over Gonzaga in the semifinals.

It’s also been a week of upsets. Six ranked teams fell on Tuesday night, including two in the Top 10. And No. 2-ranked Kansas was shocked 74-65 by Washington in Kansas City on Wednesday night. So that makes four top 10 losses this week.

Florida’s 17-point loss to Florida State was not a good look, but Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles are now 8-0 on the season. They could easily be 12-0 heading into a Dec. 30 game at Duke on CBS.

The Gators have plummeted all the way to No. 23 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. They are No. 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 33 in adjusted defensive efficiency.

While Kentucky plays Monmouth at Madison Square Garden at noon on Saturday on ESPNU, Florida will be in Newark, New Jersey to face No. 17 Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

As for the rest of the SEC on Wednesday, Alabama rebounded from its home loss to UCF on Sunday to beat Rhode Island 68-64. Donta Hall scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The Tide’s star guard Collin Sexton was poked in the eye in the first half and played just 17 minutes. He scored 11 points.

South Carolina improved to 7-2 with an 80-64 win over Allen Edwards and Wyoming. After the win, USC coach Frank Martin complained about attendance. A crowd of just over 10,000 turned out to see the team that reached the Final Four last season.

Auburn got 17 points and 11 rebounds from Anfernee McLemore to beat visiting Gardner-Webb 80-55. Bruce Pearl’s team is now 7-1.

Vanderbilt’s rough start continues as the Commodores lost 66-63 at home to Middle Tennessee. Nick King scored 23 points for MTSU. King entered the game fifth in the nation in scoring at 24.3 points per game. Vanderbilt fell to 3-6.

SEC basketball 2017-18

Team

W

L

W

L

Miss State

0

0

7

0

Auburn

0

0

7

1

Georgia

0

0

7

1

Kentucky

0

0

7

1

Texas A&M

0

0

7

1

Tennessee

0

0

6

1

Alabama

0

0

7

2

Missouri

0

0

7

2

South Carolina

0

0

7

2

Arkansas

0

0

6

2

LSU

0

0

4

2

Florida

0

0

5

3

Ole Miss

0

0

4

3

Vanderbilt

0

0

3

6

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