The Florida Gators’ run in this year’s NCAA Tournament couldn’t last through the first weekend. The Gators were stifled and stymied by the 2-seeded Michigan Wolverines, as they suffered a 64-49 defeat in the Round of 32.
These teams were tightly locked in the first half, even after Michigan jumped out to a 15-8 lead. The deficit for Florida was just four points at the half, as they trailed the Wolverines 32-28. But things got dicey for the Gators out of the break. They leapt out to an 11-0 run out of the half and while Florida closed the gap at one point to six, the deficit was simply too insurmountable for a struggling Gator offense.
The Gators’ offense struggled all day long in Des Moines. They came away with only 19 made field goals on 55 attempts from the field, and converted on just eight of 28 attempts in the second half. Their 3-point effectiveness was not on point either, as they shot just 9-of-26 from beyond the arc and 3-of-14 in the second half. They also couldn’t get to the free throw line... much at all, as they had just two free throw attempts the entire game.
Jalen Hudson was the team leader in points on the day for Florida, but had just 11 points on 15 shots from the floor. He was 3-for-10 from outside, making more 3-pointers than anybody on the team. But obviously Hudson’s good day at the office was not enough to spur Florida to victory. Andrew Nembhard was solid, as the freshman scored seven and led in assists with eight. But he too struggled from the field as he was 2-for-7 from the field in 39 minutes of action.
Noah Locke, Kevarrius Hayes and KeVaughn Allen all scored eight points. They, however, combined to shot just 10-for-25 from the floor. Basically, missed opportunities and a rigid Michigan defense were the recipe for disaster for Florida (and on the flipside, a winning combination for the Wolverines).
Florida had issues containing Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers . Poole and Livers were the two double figure scorers for the Wolverines, as the former dropped a game-high 19 while the latter put up 10. Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson each had nine points, and Simpson had himself quite a day. The Michigan point guard scored nine, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists, falling shy of a triple-double in every category, but he certainly found a way to make a serious impact.
Florida has nothing to hang their heads for after the way this season played itself out. They will be back with plenty of talent coming aboard in 2019, as they figure to remain a heavy fixture in the SEC next season.