After two early losses this season, people were ready to write off Florida and their chances to be a contender later this season. A 67-61 win over Kansas proved that with a full lineup, without suspensions or injuries getting in the way, they just might be as good as anyone else in the nation right now.
The fantastic 1-3-1 zone defense made life very difficult for Kansas in the first half, giving Florida a 15-point lead at the break. Andrew Wiggins and Kansas did go on a big run in the second half that brought them close to a comeback, while Wiggins had his best game in College Basketball, but his double double wasn’t enough.
Kansas seem frustrated, confused and bad against the Florida defense, forcing Kansas to turn the ball over 24 times. When looking at the 1-3-1 defense in half court, Kansas turned the ball over nine times, shooting 4-of-15 from the field during the first half, helping the Gators build a 21-0, as Kansas failed to score for almost nine full minutes.
It just shows that when this team is healthy and has everybody out there, or even when we don’t, we’re going to put five guys out there that are going to play hard and run our offense and play our style of play. Our style of play was overwhelming for them. We need to bring that every single day.
Scottie Wilbekin was suspended for the first few games of the season, but he led Florida with a team-high 18 points, the best game of his senior season so far, which is only four games long. He got some help from Patric Young (12 points, 6 rebounds) and Casey Prather (12 points, 8 rebounds), but the best came from the bench in the form of Dorian Finney-Smith, scoring 15 points an hitting 4 three point shots.
Kansas allowed 28 points off their 24 turnovers, the most they’ve allowed off lost possessions over the last three years. It helped Florida improved their points per possession, which hasn’t been too impressive so far this year. When they average more than a point per possession they’re 7-0, but 0-2 (losing to ranked Connecticut and Wisconsin) when they average less than that on offense.
Florida still aren’t at full force compared to what Billy Donovan had planned at the beginning of the season, and probably won’t be: Chris Walker is ineligible to play in the first semester, but the Freshman will be ready for the second part of the season. South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris, after several discipline violations, is going to be kicked off the team. Eli Carter, who played for Rutgers last year, is going to be redshirted due to his broken leg from last season.
Right now, Florida aren’t Final Four talented, yet. But when Walker starts playing, and the Freshman is considered a lottery kind of talent, wins over programs like Kansas, who might be relying too much on their blue chip Freshman (only player in double figures), aren’t going to look all that surprising anymore.