I always feel like a broken record in these post games.
After games on the road, I spend my 500 words lamenting the lack of toughness displayed, the missed opportunities and our collapse down the stretch leading to a close loss.
After home games, I talk about how well we hustled, how our shots fell and how someone really stepped up and played huge on the way to cruising to an easy win.
Today’s game wasn’t any different.
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Darius Miller’s confident clone stuck around for yet another game and lit the Gators up for a new career high. He drove with authority and connected on his perimeter shots. It was truly a beautiful sight to behold.
Josh Harrellson followed up his rebounding dominance against Arkansas with another fantastic display. The guy just gets boards, especially on the offensice glass. It’s uncanny.
Brandon and Doron both had very efficient outings too. Brandon finished with six assists and no turnovers, which is always nice for a point guard.
Terrence Jones was a bit of an enigma. He had some fantastic plays and he provided great defense all night but he didn’t really seem to be all there on the offensive end. He took some lazy shots and had trouble penetrating when Florida cut off his drives to the left. He’s got to develop his right hand because when he can’t score consistently, he loses that edge and we desperately need him to get back to his early season form. He also seemed to be tired. That’s understandable but with our personnel issues, it’s something he’ll have to play through.
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A key for Calipari was to limit offensive boards for the opposing team, Florida only ended up getting eight but we still aren’t boxing out like we should. We get so many blocks as a team, the weak side defender always wants to leave his man to try and get the big block. That’s great if he gets it, but when he doesn’t his man is always left on the opposite side of the basket from the shooter, the most common place for rebounds, unboxed out. That leads to easy putbacks and Florida got a couple of them.
Back to the positives: as a team, we only committed six turnovers in the game and four of those came in the first half. Our second half was a thing of beauty. Two turnovers would be one thing, but we also shot 65 percent from the three-point line and 55 percent from the field with 20 points in the paint.
We may have only ended up winning by eight but we absolutely dominated Florida in the second half. It was a typical Rupp Arena aided beat down.
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of this team is really frustrating. If they can play this well at home why can’t they give half of this effort on the road? I think this should serve as a good omen going into postseason play where our neutral courts should be heavy with the Big Blue Nation. A home game against Vanderbilt should be a win and then the trip to Knoxville may be the most important game we play all season. A big win on the road against a huge rival would be a nice confidence boost heading into the SEC and NCAA tournaments. This team can play with and beat good teams on neutral courts and at home. We still need to prove it on the road though and the last chance for that comes next weekend.
Until then though, here’s your hero…