Photo: Mike White; Credit: Alex Shepherd
David took down Goliath in Gainesville in historic fashion.
The Texas Southern Tigers became the first SWAC team in the AP poll era (since 1936) to earn a victory over a ranked SEC opponent, beating the No. 20 Florida Gators 69-54 Monday.
Coming off their first loss of the season to the Oklahoma Sooners on Wednesday, Florida returned to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to host a winless Texas Southern team.
The contest was viewed as a get-right game. That wasn’t the case.
“We let it carry over,” senior center Colin Castleton said postgame. “Terrible job in every aspect.”
Coming out of the gates flat and uninspired, the Gators continued where they left off in Norman: sputtering offensively and overpowered inside defensively.
As a result, the Tigers built themselves a 10-point lead heading into the halftime break, providing enough cushion to keep the Gators at an arms-length throughout the rest of the contest.
TSU would leave Billy Donovan Court with their first win of the season, beating a highly favored UF team in convincing fashion.
“We were thoroughly outplayed,” head coach Mike White said. “This game was really, really important. We needed to win this game and we needed to grow. We did neither.”
Texas Southern outmuscled Florida on the boards, led by Brison Grisham’s 13, to outrebounded the Gators 46 — including 14 offensive rebounds — to 23. Simultaneously, TSU scored 42 their 69 points inside, shooting 54% from the field, to provide a testament to the Gators suffocating providing gaping holes for air in their past two matchups.
Guard PJ Henry and forward Karl Nicholas exploited holes in the Gators defense off the bench, combining for 30 points scored on the night as the top two scorers for TSU.
The defensive dominance that carried UF to sizable victories over Florida State and Ohio State has disappeared.
Accordingly, so has their ability to win ball games.
“It starts on defense,” said Brandon McKissic. “We when have not been hitting our shots lately, it’s lead to defensive breakdowns. It wasn't X's and O's. It was within us as a team. We just have to get back to being us.”
Florida struggled to shoot the ball yet again, connecting on less than 40% of their shots from the field and under 21% from beyond the arc.
For the first time this season, UF failed to have four players score in double digits. McKissic and Castleton were the only two to eclipse that mark with 15 and 12 respectively.
Florida will have little time to recuperate from the disappointing home loss. The Gators look to end their two-game skid as they host the North Florida Ospreys Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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