Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hot Start Gets an Icy Reception; Cold Shooting Dooms Gators in a Puzzling Third Consecutive Loss

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hot Start Gets an Icy Reception; Cold Shooting Dooms Gators in a Puzzling Third Consecutive Loss

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - The Florida basketball team jumped into the national rankings with an impressive streak of victories over Florida State, Michigan State and Rutgers in late November.

A three-game stretch that was capped by Tuesday night's 67-66 loss to South Alabama in front of 10,191 at the O'Connell Center has the Gators headed in a different direction. Florida has lost three in a row since an 8-0 start and enters the Christmas break looking for answers instead of enjoying the time off.

"We came out hungry and I guess the rankings got to our heads," freshman guard Kenny Boynton said. "We played with a chip on our shoulder and somehow we got complacent."

It wasn't complacency that hurt the 18th-ranked Gators (8-3) on Tuesday. It was the 3-point line. Florida struggled from long range for the sixth time this season, making only 3-of-22 3-point shots. Boynton and point guard Erving Walker combined to go 2 for 13 and forwards Chandler Parsons and Dan Werner combined to go 1 for 9.

More concerning was the Gators' inability to guard the 3-point line for the second consecutive game. UF led the nation in 3-point defense (21.5 percent) entering last Saturday's game against Richmond in Sunrise. The Spiders went 7 of 19 from long range, and on Tuesday, South Alabama made 7-of-11 3-pointers.

UF has made only 6-of-37 shots from 3-point range in those two games.

"The 3-point line beat us against Richmond and it beat us again tonight," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "We shot in the second half 10 percent from the 3-point line [1 for 10] and the game 13 percent. Really, really hard to win. I don't care who you're playing against; it's difficult to win when you shoot the ball like that."

Despite those struggles, the Gators held a 66-65 lead with 55.2 seconds remaining after South Alabama's Tim Williams made a pair of free throws. …

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