Solid effort falls apart for UALR in final 12 minutes

UALR was  unable to get untracked offensively and eventually succumbed to Florida’s size and pressure on Saturday. The result was an 86-56 loss to Florida in a game that was much closer than that for the first 28 minutes.

Senior forward Will Neighbour came off the bench to score 21 points and added 8 rebounds while sophomore James white had 16 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Trojans.  They combined to make 15 of UALR’s 22 field goals as the Trojans shot 36.1 percent.

UALR was unable to get anything going outside the three-point line (2 of 11) or at the free throw line (10 of 12). And once Florida started turning UALR over and making treys, the Gators pulled away. Florida outscored UALR 40-15 in the game’s final 12 minutes.

“We got beat on the 50-50 plays in the second half, got beat on loose balls and got beat to the glass,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said.

There were some positives. Neighbour, who missed practices this week with a shoulder injury and didn’t start on Saturday, was an offensive force early. And the Trojans were only outrebounded 40-36 for the game.

But UALR’s 18 turnovers were killers. Florida outscored UALR 25-2 in points off turnovers.  The Gators went more than nine minutes to start the game without making a basket in their offensive set. But they still held the lead by converting fast-break points after Trojan turnovers.

UALR had its moments, taking a 12-11 lead with 10:08 left in the first half on a layup by junior DeVonte Smith. Then after getting a defensive stop, sophomore Kemy Osse turned the ball over and Florida converted two free throws to take the lead back.

UALR re-took the lead with 18 seconds left in the first half when Neighbour hit a three-pointer from the corner. But UALR couldn’t get a stop before halftime as Florida’s Kasey Hill hit a jumper for a 27-27 tie at half.
Florida couldn’t pull away early in the second half. Two free throws by Neighbour cut the Gators lead back to 46-41 with 12:06 left. But the Gators got hot and pulled away for an easy victory.

"We felt like, coming out at the second half, we had to limit our turnovers," Shields said. "You can't turn it over the way we turned it over in the second half."