Outplayed nearly from the tip, a flat, offensively inept Florida squad let a game that stayed remarkably close during an icy first half get way, way out of hand in the second, en route to a 81-58 final that is the worst loss for the Gators in series history.
Florida State’s P.J. Savoy scored 20 points on just seven shots to lead all scorers, and the Seminoles limited Florida to 36 percent shooting from the field and just 25 percent on threes, with only freshman Andrew Nembhard making multiple triples on the night for the Gators.
Florida scored just 20 points before the half, and a defense that had done its best to limit FSU despite the Gators’ ineptitude on the other end and charitable handling of the basketball — Florida committed 16 turnovers, with nine going down as Seminoles steals — broke down in the second frame, allowing a full 50 points.
Only a late run against the end of Leonard Hamilton’s bench that allowed DeAundrae Ballard to get to 13 points — which led all Gators, and was two more points than Jalen Hudson (11 points) and KeVaughn Allen (zero) had combined — cut FSU’s lead, which ballooned to as many as 32 points, back from what would’ve been a record-setting margin, with an otherwise meaningless made jumper by Mike Okauru with nine seconds left sparing the Gators from tying a mark for worst loss to FSU set in 1995.
And given that that’s the best thing that can be said about these Gators after one game, it is clear that there is so, so much work for Mike White and his players to do.