No. 20 Florida welcomes UNF, looks to rebound from embarrassing loss

National Sports

No. 20 Florida welcomes UNF, looks to rebound from embarrassing loss

Florida’s unbeaten start to the season seems like a distant memory in the afterglow of Monday night.

Coming off a tough road loss to Oklahoma, the 20th-ranked Gators’ first defeat of the season, things got worse for Florida when it was thoroughly outplayed by previously winless Texas Southern during a 69-54 loss in Gainesville, Fla.

Florida (6-2) appears to be well on its way out of the Top 25 but will try to right the ship on Wednesday night when it plays host to North Florida.

“We were thoroughly outplayed, outcoached … out-everything,” Florida coach Mike White said.

Texas Southern became the first Southwestern Athletic Conference team to beat a ranked Southeastern Conference team since the AP poll began in 1936, snapping a run of 51 consecutive wins for ranked SEC teams against SWAC teams.

Florida was favored by 23.5 points and was 27-0 all-time against SWAC opponents before the loss.

The favorites to win the SWAC this season overwhelmed the Gators at the rim.

The Gators were outrebounded 46-23 by the Tigers (1-7). Texas Southern outscored Florida 42-26 in the paint as the hosts had no answer for forward Joirdon Karl Nicholas, who had 14 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting output.

Texas Southern, which played its eighth of 13 consecutive road games to open its season, shot 54.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from 3-point range.

Brandon McKissic led Florida with 15 points, but the Gators followed up shooting 4 of 24 from 3-point range against Oklahoma by hitting just 5 of 24 against Texas Southern.

“We just did a terrible job in every aspect,” said Florida center Colin Castleton, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds. “Rebounding, backdoor cuts, loose balls. Everything we did bad the coaches told us to focus on.”

Florida figures to be heavily favored again vs. North Florida (2-8), which is 0-8 on the road this season. The Ospreys’ two victories have come against NAIA teams — Webber International and Edward Waters.

North Florida is coming off a dismal performance in a 76-41 loss to Florida Atlantic on Sunday, when it scored a season-low 12 points in the second half. The Ospreys went more than nine minutes without scoring, from late in the first half to the 13:33 mark of the second half.

Jose Placer led North Florida with nine points while Jarius Hicklen had eight points.

“We barely could get up shots and score the ball in the second half,” Ospreys coach Matt Driscoll said. “They played with a lot of energy and a lot of purpose and came to do what they planned to do to win the game.”

The Ospreys’ closest game against a Division I team was a 72-63 loss at Arizona State on Nov. 15.

North Florida was held to 30.2 percent shooting against Florida Atlantic and was outrebounded 40-26 while committing 20 turnovers.

“We got to wash it out and put a good foot (forward) to play Florida on Wednesday and then quick flip to play again on Saturday,” Driscoll said. “You have to continue to work and continue to fight, and we will.”

Placer is averaging 11 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists this season while Carter Hendricksen leads the Ospreys with 11.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Hendricksen is shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range while teammate Emmanuel Adedoyin is 21 of 38 (55.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

–Field Level Media

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