Some of the things the Florida Gators did well during their unbeaten start disappeared during a frustrating 74-67 loss at Oklahoma this past Wednesday.
The No. 14 Gators (6-1) return home on Monday night and will try to get back on track when they host winless Texas Southern (0-7) in Gainesville, Fla.
Florida finished with only seven assists and turned the ball over 16 times, which led to 19 points for the Sooners. The Gators also struggled from long distance, shooting only 4 for 24 from 3-point range, in addition to falling behind early and leading for only one minute, six seconds.
Tyree Appleby and Brandon McKissic each scored 11 points, but combined to shoot 7 for 22 from the field.
Florida, which has been much improved defensively so far this season, allowed Oklahoma to shoot 49 percent and record 16 assists to only 13 turnovers.
“I think that OU was just better than us,” Florida coach Mike White said. “And I think they executed better. They were a little bit more sound defensively. They swarm to the ball. We had some careless turnovers.”
Phlandrous Fleming Jr. led Florida with 17 points while Colin Castleton recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
The Gators pulled to within two points with 1:58 remaining, but failed to score the rest of the way.
“Credit the way they came out playing with a high level of aggression and intensity,” White said. “They definitely threw the first few punches of the game. I thought we settled in there late in the first half, but they came out early in the second half and did the same thing. We really struggled to get some stops, and we had some defensive lack of communication possessions. We forced a couple of tough ones where we didn’t get in there and get a tough rebound with five guys like we have been doing as of late.”
Four of Texas Southern’s seven losses have been by single digits, with three of those to Power 5 conference teams and two against ranked opponents.
But it’s still been a rough start for the defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champions, who have yet to play a home game and won’t until Jan. 8 when the Tigers host Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Texas Southern’s first 13 games this season, including 11 nonconference games, are on the road.
“We certainly look forward to the challenge of playing so many road games,” Tigers coach Johnny Jones said earlier this season. “It’s going to give us an opportunity to jell as a team and become stronger, more focused in preparation for a very tough league schedule.”
John Walker III led the Tigers with 15 points while reserves Joirdon Karl Nicholas and John Jones finished with 13 and 10 points respectively in Texas Southern’s most recent defeat, an 87-60 loss to Louisiana Tech.
Walker III leads the Tigers with 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, and Karl Nicholas is averaging 11.1 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 52.5 percent from the field.
–Field Level Media