Another blown second half double digit lead? Check.
More questionable decisions by both coaches and players? Check.
Missing several layups and dunks down the stretch that could have changed the complexion of the game? Check.
The result of all those things happening in the span of a single game was the same tonight as it usually is- Florida lost. And this time, the damage could be irreversible.
Florida just suffered a 71-68 loss to Vanderbilt, which entered the day tied for dead last in the SEC at 4-9 and no hope whatsoever of reaching any sort of postseason action without winning the SEC Tournament. This loss featured the Gators letting a 47-36 lead slip away thanks to a combination of bad shot selection, Mike White continually opting to run Chris Chiozza iso’s down the stretch despite them never working throughout the course of the day, Chiozza picking up his dribble for no apparent reason on two of those calls, and one less-than-intelligent decision by Kevarrius Hayes to commit a foul in the final seconds to bail out a Vandy possession that appeared to be headed nowhere.
I still think the “Fire Mike White” calls are premature- although yes, his leash is definitely getting shorter- but that’s a topic for another day. White will almost certainly be back next season unless he chooses to defy logic and bolt for Ole Miss’s open job, so regardless of what the fan base, myself included, wants, AD Scott Stricklin isn’t making any move here.
But the calls to fire White, as crazy as they felt even a month ago, have now gained some serious steam. Florida has now lost four of its last six games, and that was against the middle to bottom of the SEC. With four conference games remaining against the current SEC leader (Auburn), the SEC’s second place team (Tennessee), a team that’s tied for third in the SEC (Alabama) and a Kentucky team that’s always a threat to beat you just from a sheer talent standpoint, it’s completely within the realm of possibility that Florida will lose out and miss the NCAA Tournament altogether.
So the Gators now have to scratch and claw for their lives just to make the NCAA Tournament, and unless they defy the current odds and make the Dance, then pull off a Cinderella run for the ages in it, this season will be remembered as a failure. There is no other path to salvation for this team; they have made their collective beds with a horrifying array of choke jobs throughout this year.
And now they’re running out of time to travel down that path.