Florida was expected to compete for the top of the SEC this season. But after Wednesday's 57-54 loss at UCF, the Gators (5-2) may have to start wondering if they are a victim of their own expectations or a selfish and unfocused team.
It was apparent early in the game that UF had expected to walk on the floor and beat the Knights. This was going to be a field trip, not a business trip. When UCF started hitting them in the mouth in the form of Marcus Jordan's 18 points, UF couldn't turn on the switch to take the game over.
The glaring part of last night's game was Chandler Parsons' awful, terrible, no good, very bad game. The senior had two points (1-9 shooting) and missed all six free throws. But Parsons at least had six rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal. Bad shooting nights are to be expected and it was nice that he found other ways to contribute (something Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker can't do), but Parsons has to hit his free throws. Alex Tyus was shutout (0-5, including a 3-pointer) as he continues to make the case that Florida would have been better off with him going to the NBA Draft.
Following the game, Billy Donovan called out his offense for not doing enough to get the ball to Vernon Macklin, who had 20 points on 10-11 shooting. He said UF was "not playing together," a damning critique for a team that returns all five starters. While Donovan has a point (Walker and Boynton combined had the same number of assists as Scottie Wilbekin; 3), cohesion goes beyond simply passing the ball. UF has a lot of possessions in which everyone is standing around and watching the guards dribble into traffic, or in Wednesday's case, dumping the ball to Macklin and hoping he finishes. To be fair, they could be standing around because the guards won't pass and, aside from Parsons, no one can pass from the inside.
If you want to be optimistic, take the case that this was UF's stinker. Aside from the top-10 national teams, everyone has one or two games that look awful. Hopefully that is the case. With future trips away from Gainesville against Kansas State and Xavier, UF needs to take these games much more seriously and focus if they want to get to a point worthy of their preseason expectations.