There’s no place like home.
The Gators have tried to plant their proverbial flag in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Sunrise, but it just wasn’t the same. And after nine months of expensive and extensive renovations to their home arena, they finally got to play in it- and pretty well, for that matter.
Florida opened the game on a 9-0 run, and from there the lead just kept ballooning; it got to be 31-11, and then 51-22 at which point the game was over. The final score of 94-71 was more of a testament that it’s hard to keep up the intensity when you’re up by a few dozen of points than anything else. Little Rock had no answer for Kevaughn Allen, who scored 11 points in the span of 3:27. When they switched their defense to focus on Allen, Kasey Hill simply got the rest of the team involved, resulting in Devin Robinson, Kevarrius Hayes and Canyon Barry all eclipsing double figures.
Total mismatch from the start.
But most of the Gators’ dominance was due to the weakness of their opponent. Not as much so with their outside shooting. Few teams in the country are going to beat this Gator squad if they shoot 52% from three point land like they did last night. It’s going to take a strong and quick team that plays great man defense to contest more shots in order to stop a hot shooting night like that.
Of course, Florida could also have nights where they shoot, say, 2% from three point territory, and then they’re in trouble. So getting John Egbunu back and continuing to develop Hayes would be nice to establish a second reliable method of scoring.
The only real problem the Gators had last night was a little bit of sloppiness on both sides of the ball in the second half. A few defensive assignments were blown, leading to some easy layups and open high percentage shots. It mattered not the least because it was Little Rock, but it might matter against a better team that’s capable of erasing a 12 point lead in three minutes.
It was clear Mike White didn’t like it, either, because he could be heard on the SEC Network cameras yelling at his team that “if we do this in our next one (on the road against Arkansas) we got no chance.” And that’s nice to see in our coach- he’s never afraid to tell his team that what they’re doing is unacceptable even if they’re winning by a billion points. That helps kill complacency, and any sense of false confidence that beating up on a mid major could potentially spawn.
It feels like White has this team under control, and that his guys could go places in March- even after the devastating loss to FSU. And getting their home court back should help.