Florida basketball: Gators should not rely on 3-pointers

It’s been one of those recurring problems for Florida basketball this season. And, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

No matter whether it’s Florida basketball or anywhere else, as a coach, you never want to tell your shooters not to shoot.

However, for Mike White and the Gators, there might be a time when that philosophy is put to the test.

Saturday night, Florida basketball shot a dismal 32.3% from the field — including an appalling 29% in the first half — in a 65-62 loss to Utah State in Sunrise, Florida.

I’m not sure if ugly is the best word to represent just how bad of a shooting night it was.

What’s worse is Florida basketball had a lead early in the second half. But, Utah State rallied for seven straight points down the stretch to hand the Gators their disappointing fourth loss of the season.

This poor shooting has been a recurring theme for a Gator team built up with so much promise coming into the season.

SUNRISE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 21: Keyontae Johnson #11 of the Florida Gators shot is blocked by Trevin Dorius #32 of the Utah State Aggies during the first half of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at BB&T Center on December 21, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

While the overall shooting percentage is abysmal, one only has to look at 3-point shooting to identify the culprit.

On the season, the Gators are shooting a paltry 65-of-217 from beyond the arc, or 30%. The team is averaging just 5.9 3-pointers per game.

Individually, you have five Gators who have attempted 20 or more shots from 3-point range — Kerry Blackshear Jr., Keyontae Johnson, Scottie Lewis, Tre Mann and Ques Glover — but have only made single-digits.

Only Andrew Nembhard (13-of-40) and Noah Locke (23-of-64) have made more than 10 3-pointers while attempting at least 20.

I mean, our leading 3-point shooter is only shooting 35% from range.

Florida basketball is ranked No. 297 in 3-point shooting percentage. That means 296 Division I teams shoot 3-pointers better than the Gators.

I suppose a bright spot is that, even as dismal of 3-point shooting the Gators have so far, they are still ranked No. 8 in the Southeastern Conference — ahead of Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas A&M.

However, Florida basketball is No. 12 in the conference in overall field goal percentage at 43.1%.

Only Johnson and Blackshear are averaging double-figures in scoring so far while those two are the only Florida basketball players averaging 6.5 rebounds or more so far. No Gator is averaging double-digit rebounds.

The bottom line here is shot selection is key and so far, Florida basketball has really struggled with that. White and the team need to figure out what they are good at and work on it as there is just one game left before we start SEC play.

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The Gators will take on Long Beach State at 12 p.m. Dec. 28 at Exactech Arena in Gainesville.

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