Three Takeaways From Florida's 73-59 Win Over Arkansas
A double-double and 15-17 free throws will work.
In Florida's 73-59 victory over Arkansas on Tuesday night in the O'Connell Center, UF forward Keyontae Johnson was an all-around force. His career-high 24 points off 15-17 free-throw shooting, paired with 10 rebounds, were too much for the Razorbacks to deal with. It helped earn the Gators their third straight win, the fifth of their last six.
What did we learn from this victory? Here are three takeaways.
Johnson and Andrew Nembhard are the go-to's
Every college basketball team needs one or two guys to go get their own shot. In big moments, and in times when the offense is stagnant for whatever reason, you need guys that can create their own shot.
Part of why UF has struggled so often this year in close games down the stretch is because it has tried to make forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. that guy. The sample size is big enough to know that he is not that guy. He is not the one to go get a huge bucket in big moments.
But Johnson and Nembhard are. We have seen them do it enough now.
After a tough few minutes to begin the second half, Arkansas cut into Florida's lead. So much so that the Razorbacks shrunk it all the way down to a two-point lead. Arkansas' guard Mason Jones had 21 for the game, and 13 of those in the second half.
What could give the momentum back to the Gators?
Nembhard shooting a perfect 5-5 from the floor in the second half.
Time after time, when the Razorbacks seemed like they would even the score or take the lead, Nembhard or Johnson created their own shot and just made it happen. In the tournament, you have to have that to make a run.
Blackshear has to avoid fouls
This has been one of my takeaways in far too many games at this point. It is almost more shocking when Blackshear doesn't get in foul trouble at this point. He had four on Tuesday, and thus only played 12 minutes to score just two points.
This could haunt UF later on against better teams. It wasn't very significant against 16-10 (4-9 SEC) Arkansas. But against Kentucky? Or LSU? The Gators will probably need Blackshear down the stretch of those games.
Two fouls in the first five minutes and then another three minutes in the second half won't work.
Noah Locke's early start was big
The shooting guard cooled off in the second half, scoring just two points. But early in this one, he led UF in scoring with nine points, hitting three of his four treys.
That helped the Gators fly out to a 30-11 lead. Without that early surge, Arkansas may have taken the lead when it got hot in the second half. Even though Locke was a non-factor in the second half, he did enough early to have a thumbprint on this game.