Now unranked, Florida finds itself reeling as the Gators take on South Florida on Saturday afternoon in the Orange Bowl Classic at Sunrise, Fla.
Florida (7-3), which dropped out of the polls this week, has lost three out of its last four games, including a loss to previously winless Texas Southern at home on Dec. 6.
Things got worse this past Sunday when the Gators dropped a 70-68 decision against Maryland – a team which recently had its coach Mark Turgeon step down.
The Gators’ Tyree Appleby missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer on Florida’s final possession after he had made five 3-pointers in the game to finish with 15 points.
Florida shot just 37.9 percent from the field in the game despite Appleby’s going 5 of 9. Phlandrous Fleming Jr. had 15 points but went 3 of 12 from the field. The Gators also had trouble slowing down Maryland’s guard tandem of Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell, who each scored 19 points.
“We weren’t sharp enough defensively to guard a high-level backcourt like that the way they were playing,” Gators coach Mike White said.
Although it’s still early in the season, the Gators enter this weekend’s game looking for positive momentum with only two nonconference games left before their SEC opener on Dec. 29 at Ole Miss.
The Bulls (4-4), who have not played the Gators since 2002, have had their share of ups and downs as well so far. South Florida is coming off a 60-51 victory over Austin Peay on Tuesday after dropping back-to-back games at Boston College and against lowly South Carolina State.
Javon Greene led South Florida’s bounce-back performance with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Caleb Murphy had 12 points and six rebounds. Murphy leads the Bulls in scoring (12.6 points per game) and assists (3.6 per game).
“We did a great job on the defensive end,” USF coach Brian Gregory said. “We rebounded, caused turnovers and blocked shots. Their attention to detail on the defensive end was tremendous tonight, and you saw some flashes of us making progress offensively.”
–Field Level Media