With a two-win start last week, things were looking up for Gators hoops. A win in Knoxville Tennessee, a place the Gators had not won in since 2005, had the Gator Nation thinking about a 5-0 start and a possible double-digit win total in conference play.
What a difference a week makes.
UF played two of the worst games in Billy Donovan's 15 seasons. They looked lethargic. They looked disinterested. They looked like a team headed for the NIT.
At Auburn, a team with no SEC wins and a terrible showing in three SEC games, the Gators were held to a Donovan era-low 45 points. They shot 29 percent from the field and were 5-for-26 from behind the three-point line. They had to hit the last two just to get up to that awful stat. The first one from Kenny Boynton tied the game at 40-40. It was his first one all night. The second one from Erving Walker gave the Gators a 43-40 lead with a minute left.
Which begs the question, why in the world are the Gators jacking up 26 threes against a team that scores 40 points? Really? Are two points at a time not enough?
Turnovers again plagued UF. They should open a pastry shop next to the practice complex. Can't complain about the defense though.
The South Carolina game was particularly galling. Florida was at home coming off a nice road win against Tennessee. You'd think they would come out fired up. But no. They were a half step slow all day long.
The 'Cocks got out to a double-digit lead late in the first half. They maintained it all the way until the last four minutes of the game.
Then the Gators caught fire. Parsons hit a three and they got a stop. Then Walker hit another three to cut it to a four-point game. This time, it was Walker driving to the hoop and throwing up a wild shot when he felt contact. The ball bounced twice on the rim and fell in. The crowd went crazy. He missed the free throw (remember that phrase) and Tyus got the rebound and went back up with it. He tied the game with three minutes to go.
The Gamecocks took a two-point lead on the next trip. Florida came back down and ran a perfect pick-and-roll with Parsons feeding it to Tyus. On his way to an uncontested dunk, he fumbled the ball. Carolina scooped it up and went down and scored to make it a four-point game. Walker then drained another three from the corner to give UF new life.
Down one, the Gators got a stop and Walker took the ball. He was fouled on the perimeter. He goes to the line down one with a one-and-one. UF's best free throw shooter throws up another brick. Carolina goes down with the miss and hits a three. Game over.
Florida squandered what should have been a rather easy 4-0 start with a home game coming up against a beatable Arkansas team on Saturday. Now they look at a crucial game against the Hogs.
A loss puts them at 3-2 and in a bad frame of mind. Not where they want to be with road games against Georgia and Mississippi State ahead. After that, they host a very tough Vanderbilt to close out the first half of SEC play.
Florida needs to be at least 5-3 at the halfway mark, because the second half is tougher than the first.
They have two games with Kentucky, another with Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Also, Alabama looks like they won't be easy, either. For that matter, neither does LSU. Florida will be lucky to go 4-4 against that schedule.
So they better have a good week next week. A lot better than this week.