February 25, 2012; Athens, GA, USA; Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal (23) tries to shoot past Georgia Bulldogs guard Sherrard Brantley (23) during the first half at Stegeman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE
Here we are, at the sum of all fears.
Florida fell to Georgia on the road on Saturday, 72-62, and the Gators were only briefly in the game in the first half. Everyone missed shots, with Florida making just five threes on the afternoon. The Gators' transition defense looked porous and hemorrhaged fast break points. Patric Young was ineffective on offense, still clearly a diminished player because of his nagging ankle injury. Erving Walker (14 points, 4-of-11 shooting) was ineffective early on, and kept slashing to the hoop as if he could grow six inches on a drive.
But wait, there's more.
Casey Prather, used liberally as a supposed stand-in for Will Yeguete, had four fouls, two turnovers, and two points, and did nothing else. Kenny Boynton (11 points, 4-of-11) took bad shots. Erik Murphy was vaporous. Mike Rosario couldn't hit from outside. Scottie Wilbekin provided a bit of defense and no offense.
But wait, there's more.
The ball movement that exists when Florida is at full bore disappeared, with the Gators getting just eight assists. The defense that feeds off Florida's offense failed to corral a Bulldogs team that isn't exactly stuffed with playmakers, surrendering 76 points, Georgia's second-most in SEC play. The fire that brought Florida back in any number of games — including, most recently, on Tuesday against Auburn — seemed muted.
And Bradley Beal, so good for almost all of the game (19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists to tie for the team lead, a block, and a steal), stuck the fork in Florida in the final moments of the game with an unfortunate mistake, running into a Georgia player for a foul with one second left on the shot clock and Florida down by five points. Dustin Ware, who had 11 points and six assists for the Bulldogs off the bench, and was one of five Georgia players in double figures, calmly sank two free throws to give Georgia a seven-point lead.
The Gators didn't score again.
Florida's problems aren't all caused by the lack of Yeguete; Yeguete, when healthy, isn't the panacea for all the Gators' ailments. He's important, to be sure, and solidifies things on both ends, but Young being hurt robs Florida of a consistent option inside doesn't help, and Murphy being a perimeter player for most of his offensive possessions doesn't help. Boynton and Walker looking for deep threes and tough driving lay-ups doesn't help, and Beal's poor outside shooting doesn't help. Prather doesn't help, in general; Wilbekin doesn't help on offense. Rosario, an afterthought on all but his best days, doesn't help unless his shots are falling.
Yeguete's the one who almost always helps, one way or another. But with Florida staring at the abyss, his help isn't on the horizon.
Here we are, at the sum of all fears. And I have no idea where we go from here.