Falling to the Crimson Tide in their third SEC contest of the season, Florida squandered a chance to take unrivaled control of the SEC.
With both squads entering the matchup undefeated in conference play—both sitting as the only 2-0 squads—Alabama took control of the contest with a 12-2 run in the second half. Putting the Gators to rest soon thereafter by keeping their double-digit lead, Bama would hand the Gators their lowest point total on the season, taking them down 86-71.
As a will-imposing performance by Bama in the second half, the Tide earned their first win over UF at home since the 2006 season.
In a game that could’ve given them the lead of the conference, Florida put on an ugly performance all around and had their weaknesses heavily exploited by the Tide. Here are three takeaways from the loss.
Florida struggles to defend Bama, resulting in an onslaught of buckets
As a unit that usually prides itself on the defensive end of the ball, Florida was battered and bruised by Alabama's relentless attack.
Seeing five players score double digits, including two huge performances by Keon Ellis and James Rojas off the bench, Alabama matched their second-highest scoring total on the season with 86 points despite going just 8 for 20 from downtown.
Coming into the game with Jahvon Quinerly being a late scratch, the depth of the Bama team took a significant hit prior to tip-off. However, Ellis—who averaged just 12 minutes per contest to this point in the season—picked up the slack in a big way from the guard position.
Shooting five for six from the floor, including a perfect three for three from deep, Ellis significantly helped an already talented three-point shooting team pull away from the Gators in the second half.
Standing at 6-foot-6, 170 pounds as a guard, the undersized UF backcourt struggled to contain the Florida native throughout the evening. Adding starting guard Jaden Shackelford’s 16 of his own to the scoreboard, Alabama had their way with the Gators guards in Tuscaloosa, an aspect of the game that would prove vital in the outcome.
Uncharacteristic night offensively for the 2020-21 Gators
An ugly night for Florida’s offense.
Entering the contest leading the SEC in field goal percentage at 50.6 percent shooting, Florida reverted back to their old ways during their trip to Coleman Coliseum.
Despite a 45 percent mark from beyond the three-point line, Florida shot just 39.7 percent from the floor and failed to eclipse 80 points for the first time since game one versus Army.
However, where the largest concern falls is within the Florida production at the free-throw line. Missing out on nearly half of their mere 14 attempts from the line, the usually well-shooting free throw team looked to be a shell of itself on Tuesday night.
Inefficiency on the offensive end stemmed from a slow start shooting the ball in each half, giving Bama opportunities to pull away. In the first half, the Tide struggled to separate themselves from UF. Coming out of the half, Florida opened cold once again, and this time, Alabama took advantage.
Carrying the load for the Gators in an off-night, Tyree Appleby—who led all scorers on the evening—came off the bench to score the most points of his early Florida career. Going for 18 on 6 for 12 shooting, the Cleveland State transfer did all he could to keep the Gators afloat with his second-half performance, but his attempts were too little, too late.
Foul trouble for Scottie Lewis creates defensive inadequacy
Best defensive player in foul trouble? Energizer bunny on the bench? Not an ideal situation for a team playing an athletic and experienced group such as the Crimson Tide.
As a major piece to the Florida success since his arrival into Gainesville, Scottie Lewis has been a consistent factor in guarding the top playmaker of the Gators opponents dating back to last season.
In the absence of Keyontae Johnson on the court in the past few games, Lewis has unofficially taken over as “the guy” for Florida basketball. Despite a soaring presence on the offensive end, the prowess he brings to the table as a defender is next to none within the league of the SEC.
Sporting great length and a high motor, Lewis brings the intangibles it takes to be a lockdown defender and complete game-changer. However, due to two back to back fouls in under eight minutes, Lewis remained on the bench for a large portion of the first half. Committing his third and fourth in under five minutes out of the break, Lewis would prove to be a nonfactor against the Tide.
As a result, Alabama took control of the contest utilizing their above-average length, power, and athleticism on the offensive end, especially in one on one situations.
As Florida goes forward, keeping Lewis out of foul trouble will be imperative to the teams' success. Tuesday night was an indication of what can happen when he is forced to sit on the sidelines, and it wasn’t a pretty sight for Gator faithful.