I’ve spent more hours than I would like to admit puzzling over why the Florida Gators men’s basketball team hasn’t been what so many expected it to be this year.
One idea I hit on earlier this week? Maybe the Gators just aren’t a very good road team.
Florida is a respectable 2-3 in SEC road games, but those wins were over South Carolina and Vanderbilt; it lost its two non-conference true road games at UConn and Butler, and only has a more respectable away-from-home record thanks to its undefeated performance at the Charleston Classic. Worse, two of its three SEC road losses are bad ones, to Missouri and Ole Miss in ultimately uncompetitive games.
And that has Florida in a precarious position, with its nails alone keeping it in most NCAA Tournament projections. If the Gators add a third defeat on this Wednesday night at Texas A&M (8:30 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN), it will be increasingly easy to see them slipping off the NCAA Tournament bubble entirely.
Make no mistake: Losing to A&M on the road would be a bad loss. The Aggies are struggling in their first year under Buzz Williams, as the former Marquette and Virginia Tech head man is trying in vain to wring points out of a lineup that doesn’t like scoring them. A&M has scored more than 70 points once since its season opener, and that was in overtime against an indifferent-to-defense LSU.
A&M does play good defense and forces a lot of individual playmaking, though it is susceptible to teams that can hit the offensive boards and is much better at limiting threes — arguably great at that, in fact — than defending them. If Florida clanks as many threes as it usually does, this may be yet another troublesome spot for the Gators.
But so long as Florida can score in the 60s and keep Josh Nebo from going off inside, it should be able to score a third road win on this night.
Emphasis on should.