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Tennessee 75, Florida 70: What We Learned From Getting Punched In The Mouth

I suffered through Florida's 75-70 loss to Tennessee — the clubhouse leader for deceiving final score of a Gators game in 2012 — with Nicole, who is about the best companion possible for a frustrating, dismal effort. We yelled during the game and, on the way out, discussed what we learned today. After the jump, what we came up with.

  • Offensive rebounds are awesome, and second-chance points equally so. Florida doesn't get either with any regularity, but fouls on Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete's concussion — the scariest one I've seen in the O'Dome as a Florida basketball fan — didn't help today. Tennessee had eight, but it felt like eighteen, and the Vols turned them into a ton of second-chance points.
  • Will Yeguete is way more important than you think. Yeguete is the heart of this team, a glue guy that does everything except score well and doesn't need to be fed, watered, or otherwise maintained. He's a presence when he's healthy and flying around, and there was a massive abscess on the floor for Florida today when he wasn't. Get well soon, Will. We need you.
  • Mike Rosario is more important than you think, too. I thought Rosario was likely to be a glorified shooter, or a Kenny Boynton clone with less defense. He's not, especially since Billy Donovan lit a fire under him to get him to play defense, and he was missed on Saturday as Boynton and Walker struggled to get their shots. At the very least, he's added depth for the guard positions, which Bradley Beal can't really provide, tasked as he is with guarding small forwards; at his best, Rosario can be a spark on offense and defense. Florida could have used that today.
  • Patric Young isn't healthy, and he might not be for the rest of the season. Young's ankle continues to bug him, and he's probably not getting a whole lot healthier this season, thanks to how much the Gators need him down low. He played 36 minutes on Saturday, and shot just four field goals; he struggles to establish consistent post position when he's tired, and doesn't always get entry passes from guards that don't seem interested in establishing him when he does. That leaves me wondering how effective he'll be for the rest of the year. (He also plays better on defense with Yeguete than Murphy, but that's another point.)
  • This is what Billyball does. Florida's just going to have games like this from time to time, and while the first half was about as bad a half as I've seen Florida play under Donovan, that's somewhat understandable with Rosario and Yeguete out. Florida's also going to shoot lights out from time to time and make other teams look bad.

I don't know where Florida will go from here. I'm with Donovan on needing his team to get more "hardened," and beginning to buy into the idea that this squad would be achieving something by getting to the Sweet Sixteen. But I see a lot of the things that I see every year from Donovan's perpetually undersized and somewhat streaky program, and I know that can turn into clutch play late in the season or a team that ends up being ultimately disappointing.

These Gators could still go either way.