Gators hope Allen heats up vs. Razorbacks

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Florida guard KeVaughn Allen (5) shoots under pressure from Florida Gulf Coast forward Troy Baxter Jr. (1) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, part of the Orange Bowl Classic tournament, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
Florida guard KeVaughn Allen (5) shoots under pressure from Florida Gulf Coast forward Troy Baxter Jr. (1) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, part of the Orange Bowl Classic tournament, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Florida guard KeVaughn Allen went scoreless in the second half of the Gators' 71-69 home loss to South Carolina on Saturday after leading his team with 10 points in the first half on five shots.

The second-half shutout for Allen wasn't because he missed shots.

Allen, a senior guard from North Little Rock who is the Gators' leading scorer at 10.3 points per game, took just one shot in the second half when he played 12 of his total 27 minutes.

Why the lack of aggressiveness by a player who ranks 18th on Florida's all-time scoring list with 1,431 points?

"I can't explain it," Gators Coach Mike White said Tuesday when he met with the media in Gainesville. "He's very talented, he got off to a really good start, and he's hard to guard.

"We all see it. You see it. I see it. His teammates see it. When he's playing aggressive and confident, he's really good and we're much better for it."

Allen's scoring average this season is the lowest of his Florida career after he averaged 11.6 points as a freshman, 14.0 as a sophomore and 11.0 as a junior.

"It's not all him," White said. "It's the other guys on the floor with him and it's me. Together we've got to find a way -- whether he's making or missing shots -- to urge him to be more confident."

Allen will play his final college game in his home state when the Gators take on the University of Arkansas tonight in Walton Arena. White hopes playing the Razorbacks will help Allen be more engaged offensively.

"KeVaughn's always been more aggressive against Arkansas," White said. "We certainly hope that's the case in Fayetteville.

"It seems like whenever mom's around he plays at a high level. I'm sure he's excited to get back to his home state and play in front of a bunch of people that admire him and that'll be rooting for him."

Allen's offensive statistics in six games against Arkansas are higher than his career averages.

The Gators are 5-1 against the Razorbacks with Allen in the lineup, and he's averaging 15.5 points and shooting 47.5 percent from the field (29 of 61), 50 percent on three-pointers (17 of 34) and 90 percent on free throws (18 of 20).

Allen's career averages are 12.0 points while shooting 40.3 percent from the field, 39.9 percent on three-pointers and 86.9 percent on free throws.

In Allen's only previous game against Arkansas in Walton Arena, he scored 21 points in leading Florida to an 81-72 victory Dec. 29, 2016.

"He had a big game the last time he played here," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "So I'm sure he's looking forward to the homecoming."

The Razorbacks held Allen to 11 points when they beat the Gators 80-72 in St. Louis in last season's SEC Tournament, but in the teams' regular-season game in Gainesville, Allen scored 28 points and hit 6 of 7 three-pointers in Florida's 88-73 victory.

"It's always good knowing my family and friends are going to be there to see me play," Allen told Florida media Tuesday about playing at Arkansas. "I just want to go out there and do what Coach tells me to do. You can't be emotional or get out of character."

White said he loves Allen and believes in him.

"I told KeVaughn despite everything that's gone on in however many games we've played, he could be a first-team all-league player," White said. "Depending on how he plays and the position we all put him in. It's still so early."

Sports on 01/09/2019

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