The Florida Gators will look to regroup from their worst home loss in nearly a quarter of a century when they face Ohio on Wednesday night in Tampa, Fla.
The Gators (6-4) are coming off a 75-54 loss last Wednesday to then-No. 5 UConn. The 21-point setback was Florida’s largest margin of defeat at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville since a 79-54 blowout loss to No. 8 Kentucky on Feb. 18, 1998.
Florida led UConn 5-4 and then missed 11 consecutive shots as the Huskies raced to an 18-7 advantage. For the game, the Gators shot just 30.2 percent from the floor and had only six assists.
With a seven-day layoff since the UConn loss, the Gators say they have focused on themselves, using the extra practice time to make offensive tweaks and emphasize getting stops in transition defense.
“Teams are guarding us a certain way, kind of hanging on our shooters and making us beat them one-on-one,” first-year Florida coach Todd Golden said. “That’s an area where we have to get more player movement and get guys into catch-and-shoot spots. That hasn’t been a big enough emphasis for us yet, and I think those things will show up more.”
The layoff also has allowed two key Florida backcourt players to get healthier. Starting point guard Kyle Lofton (back spasms) and starting shooting guard Will Richard (knee) both have been limited in practice due to nagging injuries and as a result played off the bench in the loss to UConn. Golden said the injury issues have led to some inconsistencies with player rotations.
“To be the best team you can be, you need all five guys making each other playing better, not just having five good individual players out there,” Golden said. “That’s where we’ve been a little behind where I thought we’d be, just our progress in terms of playing together and making each other better.
“A lot of that is not having that consistent ability to play with the same group or the same number of guys over a consistent period of time.”
Ohio (5-4) is coming off an 81-79 win Sunday at Youngstown State. The Bobcats, under fourth-year coach Jeff Boals, lost at then-No. 20 Michigan 70-66 in overtime on Nov. 20.
The balanced Bobcats have three players averaging in double figures in scoring, led by center Dwight Wilson, who is averaging a double-double (12.5 points, 10 rebounds).
“Boals does a good job,” Golden said. “Obviously you know you’re going up against a good coach who has a good foundation, runs good stuff offensively and can prepare us as we move on. So it’s a good opponent.”
–Field Level Media