Breaking down Florida's blowout loss to Xavier on Thanksgiving

Breaking down Florida’s blowout loss to Xavier on Thanksgiving

Florida basketball opened the Phil Night Legacy in Portland, Oregon on Thanksgiving Day with a loss to the Xavier Musketeers by a final score of 90-83. The matchup between a Southeastern Conference school and a Big East representative was not how Gators fans would have liked after filling up on dinner tonight.

Tre Bonham’s 23 points led the way, followed by Will Richard’s 18 and Riley Kugel’s 12 to round out the Gators in double figures; Richard also paced the team with three steals and Kyle Lofton maxed out the assists with six. Kowacie Reeves was left out due to a coaching decision that was not detailed.

The bigger story was Colin Castleton’s overall offensive ineffectiveness throughout the game, scoring just 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots. That’s a fairly modest double-double given his 5-for-14 effort from the field, as well as just 1-for-2 from the free throw line in 32 minutes played.

Take a look below for a chronological breakdown of the game action as Florida’s second loss of the season unfolded.

Alligators get off to a slow start

Florida actually scored the first five points thanks to a layup by Lofton in the game opener, as well as a 3-pointer from [autotag]C.J. Felder[/autotag], but Xavier responded with 14 unanswered points to give them a comfortable cushion six minutes into the game. The early run was boosted by a combination of outside and inside shooting, as well as some scores from the charity streak.

…but managed to hold his own for most of the first half

Castleton ended the run with a dunk to make it 14-7 in favor of the opponent. The Gators continued to cut the lead until Bonham’s free kick tied things up at the 21st with just over nine minutes to go. The two teams battled back and forth, drawing and trading the lead until the final two minutes.

A weak end to the first half put Florida in a hole

Todd Golden’s team blew an opportunity to enter the locker room on a high note, allowing Xavier to take a four-point lead which they ultimately held late in the half. Florida seemed out of sync and lacked focus during the critical moment. The Gators ended up shooting 48% overall from the ground, but the Musketeers managed a 59% mark, while the two teams knocked down almost the same number of boards at 16 and 15, respectively.

Gators came out swinging in the second half

A four-point halftime deficit turned into a three-point lead through the first three minutes of the second frame. A pair of free throws extended the lead to six for Xavier to open things up, but Florida managed to get past their opponents and take the lead. The stretch was capped by a 3-pointer from Kugel and it was the level of play Golden wants to see.

A five-point turnaround took Florida’s momentum away

A missed dunk on a breakaway by Alex Fudge while the game was tied at 58, followed by a three-point transition by Xavier, took the wind out of the Gators’ sails. The Musketeers would exhaust another three-point transition soon after to increase their lead to six, completely deflating Florida’s confidence. The shortfall would be as big as 11 before…

Florida came back like a storm

The Gators let things slip away and hung on long enough to put together a small run of their own, cutting the lead to two with 5:39 remaining on a Castleton jumper. The push was enough to force Xavier to call a timeout.

But it was not enough

The Gators were unable to overcome that two-point barrier and ultimately fell short of victory. Things got a little ugly at the end with Xavier taunting Florida as the Musketeers closed the door in the final minutes. But overall, the Gators were outplayed thanks in large part to Xavier’s ability to neutralize Castleton on offense.

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The story originally appeared on the Gators Wire

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