Inconsistency Ruins Florida's Shot of Upsetting No. 1 Baylor; Gators Lose 72-61
GAINESVILLE, Fla -- A game of inconsistency might be the best way to sum up Florida's home contest against the No. 1 team in the land.
The Gators (12-7, 4-2 SEC) started hot against the No. 1 Baylor Bears (17-1, 6-0 Big 12), but collapsed before the first half ended and failed to take advantage of a scoring drought by Baylor in the second half, thanks to the Bears' uber-physical defense.
The Bears ended up victorious at the O'Connell Center and extended their win streak to 16, beating Florida by a score of 72-61.
Forward Keyontae Johnson and guard Andrew Nembhard's offensive performance garnered periodic bursts of excitement in the O'Dome, as Johnson opened with the first seven points of the game for Florida and finished with 20 on 52.9% shooting.
Nembhard, meanwhile, came on hot for the Gators in the second half, posting 12 points compared to only four in the first half. Though, his late efforts weren't enough for the Gators to overcome significant scoring issues in the middle 20 minutes of the game.
In the first half, Florida did a good job of creating early turnovers (five in the first nine minutes) and playing aggressive to get points on the board, but couldn't keep up with the Bears as they got hot. The Bears ended the first half on a 13-2 run over the final 4:42 of the first half, commanding the glass with 19 rebounds compared to Florida's 10.
Well into the second half, the Bears were shooting at or above 50% from two-point range and beyond the arc. Though, Baylor hit a lull with a 14 point lead, and entered a 3:09 scoring drought that the Gators failed to take advantage of. Florida never narrowed the gap to lower than 12 points amidst Baylor's cold streak.
The Bears ended up commanding a double-digit lead through almost the entirety of the second half, other than their nine point lead to open the half.
The Gators ended the game a miserable 4-17 from beyond the arc.
At the end of the day, the same offensive issues that have plagued the Gators in moments ruined their chance of dethroning the best team in the nation as things stand, and they had a good chance to do so after a fiery start.
Florida will next face Mississippi State (12-7, 3-3 SEC) on Tuesday night at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.