Allowing the #3 Tennessee Volunteers to go on a 9-0 run during the final minutes led to a 78-67 defeat and have the Gators at 9-6 (1-2), and asking some of the same old questions after being unable to close out a top team after having the lead for most of the game.
Before getting to those same old questions, Kevaughn Allen has decided to go on his hot shooting streak when they needed him most. Averaging 18 points in the last two games, being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line in the win against the Razorbacks, and going 5-6 from deep last night against the Vols.
Allen building confidence is essential for the Gators to stay positive for the remainder of the season in hopes of getting into the tournament. Add in the fact that Noah Locke looks to be a real scoring threat this season, as he logs in another respectable performance, with his 16 points, on 44% from deep.
A good sign for the team as a whole is the way the matched the physicality of the Vols. Before the matchup, the Volunteers were smothering their opponents with stifling defense, and getting up and down the court in transition.
Head Coach Mike White had his team ready as they were the aggressors during the first half, and held the Vols to just 35 points in that span. During the second half the defensive intensity was still there but the hot shooting was left in the first as the explosive volunteers were able to take it to another level to close out the game.
Now those same old questions I referred to earlier. First, where on earth is Jalen Hudson this season?
The senior transfer guard betted on himself after last season to try improve at all facets of his game in order to become a higher selection during this year’s draft. So far that bet hasn’t worked out, as once again Jalen Hudson fails to make an impact that could help win a game, instead he finishes with just 2 points.
Coach White can’t hope for Hudson to snap out of his funk for the year, and should look to give Deaundrae Ballard more of his minutes to find a more reliable source of offense from the wing. All Ballard is missing the confidence needed to be more consistent 6’6 forward is an all-around presence that should be taken out of the sixth man role.
Which leads us to the last of those old questions, which one of the young players will step up in order help Allen, and Locke score enough points to actually beat the upper echelon teams on the schedule.
The Gators will have to see another upper echelon team, as a trip Starksville on the horizon with #14 Mississippi State Bulldogs hosting the Gators on Tuesday. It’s a very winnable game especially the way they played against Tennessee, the only question is who will help the offense score enough points to go with the defensive effort?