The Florida Gators appeared to be trending toward a Top 25 ranking a week ago.
But following consecutive lopsided losses against Southeastern Conference frontrunners Alabama and Kentucky, the Gators are trying to stay afloat in the league as they prepare to host an equally desperate Ole Miss squad in Gainesville, Fla., on Tuesday night.
The Rebels (6-4, 1-2 SEC) have lost three of their past four games and are 2-4 since winning their first four games.
Florida (5-3, 2-2 SEC) was thoroughly outplayed this past Saturday by a resurgent Kentucky squad that scored 25 points off 16 turnovers. The Gators, who are shooting 47.4 percent so far this season, were held to only 37.5 percent against the Wildcats.
Anthony Duruji (15 points) and Tyree Appleby (10 points) were the only Florida players to reach double figures.
“They came out and just punched us in the mouth,” Appleby said. “You can’t underestimate any team in the SEC. They came out, they just played way better than we did tonight, so we just got to get back to the drawing board.”
Part of the recovery process for the Gators could be a bounce back from Scottie Lewis, who has scored only two points on 2-for-10 combined shooting over 52 minutes the past two games.
And also finding a way to limit turnovers — a problem which has plagued both Florida and Ole Miss — will be key for the Rebels and Gators.
The Rebels are averaging 14.4 turnovers per game, which ranks 217th in the nation. The Gators are averaging 14.9 per game (247th).
Gators scorers may have their hands full against Ole Miss, which ranks 23rd in scoring defense (61.7 points allowed per game) and 38th in field goal percentage defense (38.7 percent).
But Ole Miss hasn’t been able to match that prowess on the offensive end.
The Rebels’ top three scorers were held to nine points on 2-for-13 shooting combined in their 75-61 loss to LSU. Devontae Shuler (12.6 points per game) did not make a shot (0 for 9) from the field and neither did KJ Buffen (0 for 1), who was benched after picking up a technical foul with 18:11 left. Romello White took only three shots in 23 minutes, as he finished with four points.
“We’ve got to find other ways early to see the ball go in,” Ole Miss guard Luis Rodriguez said. “If it’s getting paint touches or feeding Romello or letting the defense lead to offense, I think in practice we do a real good job of that. It’s just harder to get going in the half court when they’re scoring and we’re not making plays.”
–Field Level Media