Like It Is:

If Hogs are to dance, they must defend

By: Wally Hall
Published: Friday, January 19, 2018
Florida guard Chris Chiozza (11) goes up for a 3-point shot against an Arkansas defender during an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday Jan. 17, 2018. Florida won, 88-73. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP)
Florida guard Chris Chiozza (11) goes up for a 3-point shot against an Arkansas defender during an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday Jan. 17, 2018. Florida won, 88-73. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP)

The Florida Gators don’t have much of an inside presence so they have lived and died by three-point shooting this season, and they definitely lived off it Wednesday night in a 88-73 win over the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Razorbacks.

The Hogs didn’t play great perimeter defense and the Gators made 13 of 25 three-point attempts (52 percent). For the season, they average 24 treys a game but make about 39 percent.

Arkansas had one more field goal, but were 9-19 on threes and made a mere 6 of 15 free throws.

In all but one of the Razorbacks’ losses, they have been outscored on points off turnovers. The Gators turned eight Arkansas turnovers into 17 points, and the Hogs turned nine turnovers into just 11. In the loss to North Carolina both teams had 15 points off turnovers.

As predicted, North Little Rock’s KeVaughn Allen broke out of his slump and burned the Hogs for 28 points, hitting 6 of his 7 three-point attempts.

Allen is 5-0 against the Razorbacks, and while Wednesday’s 28 was his career high against Arkansas, the junior has averaged 16.4 points in the wins over the Hogs.

The Razorbacks are 2-4 in SEC play, but at the same place last year they were 3-3 and got to 6-5 in early February before reeling off five consecutive wins, three on the road, and finished the season 12-6 in conference play.

They made the finals of the SEC Tournament and were a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament where they lost the second game to eventual national champion North Carolina.

The league is better this year, but last year was a pretty good indication that the SEC was turning around.

With five teams in the NCAA Tournament and only Vanderbilt losing its first game, Kentucky and Florida went 3-1, losing in the Elite Eight. Kentucky lost to North Carolina, 75-73 and the Gators were eliminated by South Carolina which advanced to the Final Four, losing to Gonzaga 77-73.

The SEC was 11-5 in March Madness, and if the Hogs want to be part of that again it is up to them to play better defense.

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