Florida Upset 65-59 by Loyola-Chicago; Gators Held Without Double-Digit Scorer

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2017

Florida head coach Mike White signals to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Loyola of Chicago in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Ron Irby)
Ron Irby/Associated Press

The No. 5 Florida Gators looked like Final Four contenders when they started the 2017-18 campaign 5-0 and beat Gonzaga in a double-overtime thriller, but that is no longer the case after they dropped their third straight game Wednesday.

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers stunned Florida 65-59 at the O'Connell Center and moved to 9-1 in the process.

Forward Aundre Jackson was too much for the SEC school, finishing with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from three-point range. His versatility allowed him to get to the rim and hit from the outside, and the additional attention he drew opened up looks for big man Cameron Krutwig, who tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

Florida didn't have a single player score in double figures, as the offense failed to generate any sustained momentum against Loyola's defense.

That the Gators couldn't get anything going against the Ramblers on the offensive end was the biggest surprise of the contest, considering they are Ken Pomeroy's 15th-best pace-adjusted offense in the country and scored more than 100 points four times in their first five games.

The explosive athleticism and lethal outside shooting that defined Florida's early-season showings was nowhere to be found Wednesday, as the team shot an abysmal 2-of-19 from three-point range and 36.9 percent from the field.

Leading scorer Jalen Hudson managed just nine points, while the typically strong Egor Koulechov added seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports summarized the proceedings for Florida:

Losing to Duke and Florida State in the previous two games was one thing for the Gators, but dropping a home contest to a Missouri Valley team that lost to Boise State by 34 is the type of defeat that lingers throughout a season. The selection committee could even point to Wednesday's loss when seeding the Gators against teams with similar resumes come tournament time.

As for the Ramblers, this result should give them plenty of confidence before the meat of their conference schedule as they attempt to make their first Big Dance since the 1984-85 campaign. Their next game comes against the Norfolk State Spartans on Saturday.

Things won't get much easier for the Gators with a date against the No. 17 Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday.

Another performance like Wednesday's will ensure a fourth straight loss for the team that figures to plummet in the next rankings.

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