There was just not enough for Florida to get a win over Georgetown on Wednesday night in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
And that's becoming a recurring theme for the Gators in 2014.
Florida fell in overtime to Georgetown, 66-65, in the opening round of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis, because it shot a miserable 35.9 percent from the field, because Michael Frazier II was just 2-for-8 from three, because Dorian Finney-Smith's 16 points off the bench to lead Florida were still the product of a player at less than 100 percent, because Eli Carter was 2-for-14, because Chris Walker was 1-for-6, because it committed 16 turnovers, and because Georgetown made a slew of difficult shots late.
Florida took the lead on a difficult Kasey Hill layup with just over two minutes to go in regulation, only for D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera to tie the game with a jumper. Then the Gators took the lead twice in the final minute of overtime, on a Finney-Smith lay-in off a steal and another Hill bucket, only for L.J. Peak and Smith-Rivera to hit deep shots and take it back.
And so, 10 days after a two-point loss to Miami for almost all of the same reasons, Florida is 2-2 on the year, and has missed out on the Battle 4 Atlantis's grand prize — an RPI-boosting, gut-checking meeting with Wisconsin. Instead of a showdown with the Badgers, the Gators will play UAB Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. on the same AXS TV channel that seemed to be broadcasting from 1987 on Wednesday. UAB, both the only team outside the KenPom top 50 in the Bahamas and the only team outside the KenPom top 200 in the Bahamas, isn't a prize at all, because the benefits of beating a bad team in a tournament like this are minimal: Florida can't afford a damaging loss, sure, but a loss to Wisconsin would actually have meant more come tournament time than a win over UAB will.
And, yes, even though Florida looked young and dumb and frustrating and punchless at times against the Hoyas — whose size appeared to give the Gators fits when driving, despite Florida's incredible 18 offensive rebounds on the night — Florida should roll UAB, and meet the winner of a rare North Carolina-UCLA game in a Friday contest. Gators fans should hope to see the Tar Heels, who are better, and the closest facsimile of Wisconsin in the field, even if North Carolina would be a significant favorite over the Gators; the benefits of a win would be greater, and the downside of a loss lesser.
But Gators fans can't expect much out of a team that's demonstrated only that it's just not enough right now. Florida will grow and improve, I think, and it's a good sign that defense, not offense, is its current forte: Defense is dependent on effort and understanding, and those things seem to be there, to some degree. Plus, if the Gators can keep playing defense like they have (they're still 13th in Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom), the offense might come around simply by virtue of making more shots.
As it is, though, this may be a frustrating year of close calls and shoulda-been-a-wins.
For fans spoiled by four straight Elite Eight teams, that may just not be enough.