Ugly is as ugly does. And the Florida Gators are certainly ugly on the hardwood right now.
But they won again, this time by a 56-47 count in a Thanksgiving Thursday night matchup with a gamer-than-expected UAB squad, and a resolute defense helped with that.
Chris Chiozza had 13 points (chiefly on three threes) and six steals (all in the first half) to spark the Gators, and Michael Frazier II had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Florida in both categories, but this one was won down the stretch: Florida closed on a 11-0 run, forcing UAB into a series of bad shots. The Blazers didn't make a field goal in the final 6:21 of play, and while Florida only made two, the Gators' commitment to working the ball inside late, via Kasey Hill drives and dishes, paid dividends at the foul line, where Florida scored seven of those 11 points.
There's still a lot for the Gators to work on, especially with North Carolina looming as the most athletic team they've seen in a Friday showdown, and anyone confidently predicting a Florida win in that game is a liar. But Florida's been in games over the last two nights, and won one, without shooting even 40 percent from the field, and that takes some serious defensive intensity.
If the shots ever start falling, or if the Gators find another way to jump-start an offense that would only be described as "anemic" if one was trying to be nice, the defense that has been Florida's spine so far could be what suffocates teams in blowouts.
Those are big ifs, though.