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Florida Gators Suffer First Loss On the Road To the Oklahoma Sooners, 74-67

Plagued by turnovers and poor shooting, the No. 14 Florida Gators suffer their first loss of the 2021-22 season to the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Florida Gators suffered their first loss of the 2021-22 season to the Oklahoma Sooners on Wednesday, 74-67.

As their first road challenge of the year, Florida was in a position to extend their impressive win streak to start the season to seven but fell in the hostile environment that the Lloyd Noble Center provided for the Sooners squad.

“The atmosphere was crazy, and their crowd was really, really into it,” said guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. postgame. “We got a little out of character early on. It was really tough with their crowd and atmosphere, but that’s how it is in road games. This is really our first test – a real road-game test – and it was really tough. They are a great basketball team.”

Plagued by a poor shooting performance and an onslaught of turnovers forced by Porter Moser’s defense, the Gators continued to trip over themselves for the longevity of the contest.

They connected on just four of their 24 three points shots – all of which in the second half – and committed 16 total turnovers.

Both numbers are typical recipes for failure at the collegiate level.

However, despite the uncharacteristic spurts of playing undisciplined basketball, Florida found a way to keep themselves alive is in the contest.

Off the bench, Fleming was a catalyst for the Gators’ spurts of success that kept them within striking distance. His 17 points on 6-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line led the team.

Other contributors were not as efficient.

Going 0-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Gators entered into the halftime break down just a point to a Sooners team that had drastically outplayed them through the first 20 minutes.

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Jockeying for position in the second half, the Gators were overpowered by a strong Oklahoma squad, led by a stingy defense and center Tanner Groves – who finished with 20 points.

Florida’s leading scorer this season, Colin Castleton, was sporadic throughout. Getting into early foul trouble to begin the second half, Castleton was forced to have a limited impact.

He still accounted for a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds – and recorded four blocks – but did so in a fashion that failed to live up to the expectations he’s garnered for himself with his early-season play.

As a result, the contest that was slated to be a battle of the big men was won by Groves, a correlation to the outcome.

The same way Florida out Florida State’d Florida State a couple of weeks ago, Oklahoma found a way to out Florida the Gators, turning suffocating defense into offensive opportunities in transition.

“I think that OU was just better than us,” said Mike White. “I think they executed better. They were a little bit more sound defensively, and they swarmed to the ball. They were certainly better than us for 40 minutes.”

As a result, the Gators consistently found themselves playing from behind, an unfamiliar position for this version of White’s squad.

According to Fleming, the focus in the coming days is to learn from their mistakes, get back to playing their brand of basketball and avoid making the down performance to Oklahoma a trend.

“We’re going to learn from this one, we are going to try and build on it for the next one and we are going to move on quickly,” he said.

Florida will have a chance to right the ship when they return home to take on Texas Southern in their eighth game of the season Monday at 6 p.m.

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