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Florida 68, LSU 62: Missed Opportunity

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Tigers fall to Gators 68-62 in Gainesville.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This was a bad loss. In the first half, the Tigers couldn't consistently clean the defensive glass, which led to them falling behind early, and struggling to cut into the 5-8 point cushion the Gators had going for most of the game. Continued poor defensive play on the perimeter led to easy Gator penetration, which led to open Gator 3s. Jones failed to adjust his zone (or switch to man), despite the Gators obvious understanding and exploitation of it. Back-end awareness on defense was dog shit. Nonexistent in the first half. If you're going to zone, you can't allow them to run the same back-door alley-oop play over and over. Poor job adjusting by Jones there.

From the get go, Florida shifted their defensive toward Craig. He made the most of it, but that's largely what stymied the offense in the first half. The Tigers had become a little too dependent on him to clean things up for them. He did a poor job of making the second pass when the Gators doubled, but a solid performance overall. Played uncontrolled on offense. Traveling calls and stupid turnovers. Two unforced turnovers in the final minute. Simmons can't shoot, and when he gets a 15 foot head start to the hole, he has very little control, which leads to turnovers and poor finishes (his touch was improved today, though, which is a good sign.) He also played especially poor on defense in certain spots.

They didn't find ways to get Blakeney going. Too many contested jumpers. A player with that level of talent, you have to tailor the offense to get him involved more. I love that he took it upon himself to up his defense and rebounding a result of his poor shooting, but the system (and jones) need to help him out to get him going more easily. Not enough simple stuff (down screens, double screens) is set for him to get him off and going, and it's almost a waste to have such a potent scorer if you don't at least get him the looks he needs to get to his spots. He's averaging just 6.22 ppg since Hornsby and Craig have been inserted into the line-up, and this could be a major issue getting into the meat of SEC play. Some of these Quarterman step back threes at the end of the shot clock (why a non shooter is taking a step back three in the first place is beyond me) would be better suited in Blakeney's hands, as at least he profiles as plus shooter (though his number's don't necessarily suss that out.)

Not a clean game by any means on LSU's part. If they didn't have all this slop, they'd likely of won handily in my opinion.  Playing Elbert Robinson for 3 minutes during an essential stretch of the game certainly didn't help either (immediately gave away 6 gator points and just has very little clue of what his responsibilities are as a basketball player.)  Yet he refused to play Josh Gray at all in second half. The rotations are completely wacky. The amount that is asked of Simmons on a night to night basis is a recipe for disaster, no matter how good the kid is. Gainesville is tough and this is a good Gator team (better than a lot of LSU fans are giving them credit for), but this was a very winnable game.  They did the little things (take care of the ball, set good screens, box-out on defense) at level consistent with the pre-Hornsby period of death.

Next the Tigers get ole miss at home, where they seem to thrive. Jones is gong to keep us on our toes this year, but let's not let that take away from the majesty of Simmons. In a sloppy (and pretty average) game for him, the kid had 28, 17, and 4, along with going 14-16 from the line (huge for him.) I saw someone claim on twitter that if the Sixers get him they'll make the playoffs next year (which just couldn't be any farther from the truth) but it does speak to how special the kid is. Let's remember to not take him for granted. He's not getting close to the help he needs or deserves, but he's still likely going to drag this team to the tournament. If there is a way he can find to galvanize his teammates, who knows where he can take his team. Now only if his damn coach would get out of the way....