In the second half of Wednesday night’s contest against Florida, the Texas A&M men’s basketball team struggled to find any offensive momentum, as a three-point halftime deficit turned into a 17-point crushing loss to the Gators in front of the home crowd at Reed Arena.
After shooting 12-of-24 from the floor and 4-of-9 from three-point range in the first half, the Aggies (11-12, 5-6 SEC) struggled to find the bucket in the second half, finishing with a 34.8 field goal percentage and missing 12 of their 14 attempts from three-point range. This offensive ineptitude allowed the Gators (15-9, 7-4 SEC) to finish shooting over 57 percent in the second half, leading by as much as 23.
Florida coach Mike White said his offense came alive against A&M.
“I thought that was the best we've moved the ball all year, as well as the best we’ve played offense all year,” White said. “For us to come in here and score 78, obviously we did a lot well offensively. This team [has] struggled at times against really good defenses, especially on the road. That's about as well as we've played in the second half offensively.”
With the loss, the Aggies have lost three of their last four games for their first losing record since Dec. 21.
Defensively, poor execution in the second half allowed Florida to finish the second half shooting 57.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Florida’s Andrew Nembhard led in scoring for both teams with 24 points, 16 of which came in the second half, while guard Noah Locke set a season-high in scoring with 21 points.
One area contributing to the issues on defense was how well Florida played on the glass. In the game, the Aggies struggled with the size and length of the Gators, losing the rebounding advantage 36 to 20. On the offensive end, Florida was able to grab the rebounds on over half of their misses, recording 14 offensive boards while A&M only finished with 11.
“Florida has size and athleticism at all five spots [on the floor],” A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “14 [rebounds] is a good number. It's not a great number, but if you only miss 25 and you're getting 14 of them, that's where it becomes a backbreaker. Is it because of their length, their athleticism, their talent, our lack of effort or our lack of positioning? If they're getting that high percentage, it's probably a combination.”
To open the second half, the Aggies managed to keep pace with the Gators, cutting the Florida lead to six at the first media timeout. With the game in reach, the Aggies struggled to corral the momentum, as the Gators used a 10-2 scoring run to expand the lead to double digits before recording another 10-2 scoring run to build an 18-point lead. A three-pointer by Florida’s Locke built the Gators league to 20 points, before Aggie baskets helped soften the crushing defeat.
Overall, Florida led for over 33 minutes of gametime, while the Aggies led for less than four minutes.
On the offensive end for the Aggies, Emanuel Miller led all scorers, finishing with 19 points, three rebounds and two assists. Miller, who only played 19:01 with foul trouble, recorded 15 of his points in the second half. Frontcourt partner Josh Nebo finished with 12 points, four rebounds and two assists, while Savion Flagg recorded his first double-digit scoring performance since Mizzouri with 11 points.
Senior guard Wendell Mitchell, who had scored double-digits in each of their last four games, struggled to find a rhythm on the offensive end, finishing with three points off 1-of-5 from the field and missing all four of his three-point attempts. Andre Gordon finished with eight points.
Against Florida, the A&M bench struggled to help contribute for the team, with Quenton Jackson the only significant presence with six points and four rebounds in the game. Jackson matched Mitchell in missing all four of his three-point attempts, finishing shooting 2-of-9 in 30 minutes of action. Guard Jay Jay Chandler provided two points and three turnovers in 10 minutes on the floor.
The Aggies stay home this weekend, facing off against Georgia on Saturday at Reed Arena as part of A&M’s Mother/Son Day. Tipoff against the Bulldogs is scheduled for 2:30pm, with the game being streamed on the SEC Network.