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Purdue 85, Florida 70: Gators derail late, suffer season's first loss

As heartening as Florida's play was on Saturday, Sunday was a disappointment.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Florida center John Egbunu made a layup with 8:54 to go — off a fine dish from Dorian Finney-Smith — in the Gators' game against Purdue on Sunday. It cut the Boilermakers' lead to 63-60, and could have been the spark for a great closing run in the championship final of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.

Instead, Purdue ran Florida over, and ran away for an 85-70 win.

The Boilermakers' response to the 10-4 Florida run capped by that Egbunu layup was a 22-3 run that left no doubt about which team was better at the Mohegan Sun Casino. Five Purdue players scored in double figures, led by Rapheal Davis with 18, and the Boilers sank 11 of 26 threes after pounding the Gators inside early on, showing their potential to be one of the nation's best teams.

And for Florida, the issue was shooting by almost everyone other than Egbunu and Finney-Smith. Egbunu came within a point of his collegiate high with 19 points, and left the game thanks to cramps instead of taking two free throws that could have established a new standard. Finney-Smith had 17 points of his own on just 12 shots, and led all players with eight rebounds.

Florida got 12 points from KeVaughn Allen, a new career high in a very young career, and eight more from Chris Chiozza off the bench ... and that was about it. The other seven Gators who played combined to go 4-for-25 from the field, and Florida simply couldn't keep up with a hot-shooting foe as a result.

Not every team the Gators will see this year can go inside-outside like Purdue, and the way the Boilermakers have played so far this season makes me think they might play far into March. But Florida also looked sluggish at times on defense and struggled to shoot, and it cannot set up Mike White's vaunted press or play at White's preferred fast tempo without making shots.

Those struggles may persist. And if they do, Florida might be outclassed by better teams more often than not.