Four Takeaways From Florida’s 78-61 Win Over Texas A&M
Twenty-four and twenty-one points.
In Florida’s 78-61 victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday in College Station, Texas, the Gators had two players carry them to victory, in point guard Andrew Nembhard and shooting guard Noah Locke. Nembhard had 24 points while Locke had 21 during a must-have game for coach Mike White's club.
Here are three things we learned from the contest.
The ankle is just fine
Against Ole Miss on Saturday, Nembhard rolled his ankle. It looked pretty brutal when it happened, and all week White said he wasn't sure if his starting point guard would be able to go against the Aggies.
Well, not only did Nembhard go, but he made everyone else go as well. The sophomore was sensational the entire night and Buzz Williams' group had no answer for the point guard. He added five assists to his 24-point total as well as scored at an extremely efficient clip at 9-11.
If Nembhard continues to be this effective, UF will look more like it did in this game and against then-No. 4 Auburn than it did against Ole Miss on Saturday. He makes everything for this team go. When he is scoring, as well as distributing, the Gators are perhaps the toughest team in the SEC to beat.
Locke needs more of these
The shooting guard's 21 points largely came from three-pointers, hitting 5-10 from beyond the arc. When he shoots well, the Gators become significantly harder to beat. He has the capability to make everything go as Nembhard does, but in a different way.
This is a supremely athletic team, and when Locke is hitting his threes and spreading the floor, he allows Nembhard, forwards Keyontae Johnson and Kerry Blackhear Jr. and the rest of the Gators to penetrate inside with more space to operate. Teams can't crowd the paint as much as they often do against the orange and blue.
Often, Locke is the difference between an ugly and a pretty day offensively for this team.
Johnson did the dirty work
Despite being hot offensively as of late, Johnson did not have as flashy of a night against the Aggies. He still scored in double figures, however, with 10, but the more important part of his game tonight was everything else he did.
Johnson posted a double-double with 10 rebounds. He also tacked on six assists to lead the team in that category as well as raked in a steal. This is what Johnson should consistently give this team.
Sometimes, he will have a hot shooting touch and score plenty of points. But he should always use his gifted body to out-athlete people in the paint for rebounds. He should always disrupt plays defensively and get steals as a forward with quicker hands than most.
The Gators seem to always do this
Just after a head-scratching loss to Ole Miss, the Gators came out and looked fantastic on the road.
That's been the case all year, and vice versa. The Gators will play one game at maximum effort and in unison and dominate. In their next contest, they'll flop.
Florida has one of the most inconsistent groups in college basketball, but the ceiling is still high. Should White's team string a few wins together and gain some momentum heading into the SEC tournament, the Gators have an opportunity to change the narrative of this season.