Florida's up-and-down season is back down again with a three game losing streak to finish the season. It is hard to remember now, but with UF defeated Michigan State during FSU weekend, the feeling among a lot of Gator fans was that the Gators were finally back. If you were in a Gainesville bar or restaurant that Friday night in November, you were feeling flashbacks to 2006.
The eight game losing streak was followed by an expected loss to Syracuse. The following losses to Richmond and South Alabama at home erased the fuzzy feelings from defeating the Spartans. But then, the Gators won 9 of 12 games, and should have defeated Tennessee, if Alex Tyus had been able to hit a 15 foot open jumper.
Since then, UF has been 3-5, with bad losses to South Carolina and Georgia. In their wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee, the Gators demonstrated that they can play a 40 minute game, which has been lacking in the recent three game losing streak. There isn't one stat that jumps out, but there is proof that when Florida plays inside and outside, they win.
In those two games, Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin and Erving Walker were each in double figures. That did not happen in any of the three games Florida has lost since. Walker, for all his faults, can give the Gators a huge lift when he is making jumpers. He can try to go to the basket, but Parsons and Macklin need the ball in their hands, so Walker's drives come at the expense of Florida's other options. Parsons can move without the ball, but he needs help now in that teams are more focused on guarding him. Against UK and Vanderbilt, Parsons scored a combined 12 points.
Macklin is a different story. When he wants to assert himself, he can drop 15 points and not miss anything. If he starts getting bumped around or manhandled on defense, he becomes pillow soft and not worth working the offense through him. The Vanderbilt game was a good example of this as Macklin scored 21 points, but only 3 in the final nine minutes. When UF was struggling, they needed Macklin and easy points inside. But with Vandy working him on defense, Macklin was missing on the other end.
Anything is possible with the Gators in the SEC Tournament. They could lose to Auburn, as they did last year in Tampa. Or cruise into the semifinals, securing a bid for the NCAAs.