It took the Gators more than 365 days to drop an SEC regular season game, but in the span of three days, they've now dropped two.
Tuesday night, that loss was a 79-61 defeat at the hands of LSU, a loss that ties a 2010 loss to Ohio State as the worst Gators home loss since 1998.
And it wasn't a pretty game to watch, though the score stayed relatively close for 75 percent of the game. In Florida's 0-for-6 three-point conquest during the first half, two of their six attempts hit nothing but backboard. Coming off a game where they recorded 19 turnovers, the Gators only turned it over 13 times, but those were mostly live-ball turnovers, and led to quick transition lay-ups and dunks, some driven right down the middle of the court.
LSU had four players score in double digits: Jordan Mickey (14), Jarell Martin (22), Keith Hornsby (15) and Tim Quarterman (15). And in a game where Florida's emphasis was surely to try to get Mickey into foul trouble, the big man only finished with three personal fouls.
Alex Murphy and Dorian Finney-Smith led the Gators in scoring with 10 (Murphy's career high), but no other UF player scored in double digits, and with Finney-Smith coming off the bench, that means no starter was in double figures, either. The problems for Florida were the same old troubles: They couldn't defend the three (LSU made eight of its 13 tries), and they gave up too many points in transition (14).
I think Florida's a talented group, but I don't think they're a good basketball team. You can tell the dynamic, chemistry, and identity change with each substitution. There's no consistency to the roles each player plays. When Jon Horford is in the game, he's a stretch big with some size who can slow the game down a bit; when Chris Walker comes in, he can't slow the game down, and to get the most out of him, the game has to speed up.
When Michael Frazier — who started for the first time in three games, and recorded a three for the 40th consecutive outing to take sole possession of a school record he had shared with Lee Humphrey, and scored just eight points — is in without Eli Carter, he's more prone to shoot with any daylight he has (which he should). But once the Gators start to struggle, or when Carter is in the game, he becomes too passive, and refuses to take shots, trying to facilitate.
And let's be frank: Frazier won't lead this team by passing the ball; he will lead them by shooting it.
Jacob Kurtz gives great effort, but don't get too caught up, he's playing Will Yeguete's role without Yeguete's skills. This team is desperate for a player who can create his own shot in any way: Threes, the dribble-drive, stop-and-pop jumpers, second chances off the glass, anything. They need to find some sort of go-to when the going gets tough.
Right now, they don't have one, and tough goings lead to losses.
There's no commonality in this group. It's young guys searching for their chance to get the most playing time combined with upperclassmen who are, at the same time, struggling to become leaders. I think Billy Donovan is a great coach, and I think he has the ability to find answers when no one else can seem to find one, but that doesn't mean there's always an answer — and this year, with these players, at this point in their careers, there might not be one to find.
And without an automatic bid, this was quite possibly the dagger for Florida's NCAA Tournament hopes. So there might be some soul-searching in a different tournament come March.