Arkansas led by 27 points with nine minutes to go in the game, but some late threes by the Gators cut the lead significantly.
For the Gators, it was their first loss in the last 10 games and also their first loss in SEC play. The Gators had not loss since Dec. 22, when the Kansas State Wildcats upended them.
Arkansas started off red hot and never looked back. Hot shooting by the Razorbacks (49.1 percent) and uncharacteristic poor offense by the Gators allowed Arkansas to get into transition and score a whopping 43 points in the first half of play. Compare that to the 51.1 points allowed per game by the Gators prior to this contest, which was 1st in the SEC and 2nd in the nation. Also, the 80 points scored on the Gators was by far the most that their defense has given up all season.
Gators fans should not be alarmed, though. It was a road game in conference play. This is college basketball and this is the way this season has gone. Just look as the past several weeks: It happened to the Duke Blue Devils at the Miami (FL) Hurricanes and the North Carolina Wolfpack. It happened to the Michigan Wolverines at the Indiana Hoosiers. It even happened at Phog Allen Fieldhouse to the Kansas Jayahwks against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
What was most surprising was how flat Florida looked, though.
Arkansas switched all pick and roll and pick and pop action in Billy Donovan‘s ballscreen offense and Florida seemed a bit tentative responding to the Razorback defense. They also missed a ton of shots until late in the game.
Hopefully for the Gators’ sake, they just lost the game and not forward Will Yeguete, who left the game with a knee injury in the first half. Missing Yeguete was also a factor in the loss as his absence disrupted Florida’s substitution pattern, defensive rotations and much needed energy.
Nevertheless, the Gators will rebound from this loss. Donovan is too good of a coach and Florida has too much senior leadership with Erik Murphy, Kenny Boyton and Mike Rosario on their roster. Florida will refocus, like so many other teams this year had to do, and be better in March because of this adversity.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo