Breaking down Florida’s loss to Xavier on Thanksgiving * Florida

Florida basketball opened the Phil Night Legacy in Portland, Oregon on Thanksgiving with a loss to the Xavier Musketeers by a final score of 90-83. The matchup between a Southeastern Conference school and a Big East representative didn’t go the way Gators fans would have liked after they had stuffed themselves with dinner in the afternoon.

Tre Bonham’s 23 points led the way, while Will Richard followed with 18 and Riley Kugel 12 to close the Gators in double figures. Richard also paced the team with three steals and Kyle Lofton chipped in with six assists. Kowacie Reeves sat out this game due to an unspecified coaching decision.

The biggest story was Colin Castleton’s general ineffectiveness on offense throughout the game, scoring just 11 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots. That’s a pretty modest double-double, given his 5-for-14 effort from the field, as well as just 1-for-2 from the free throw line in 32 minutes of action.

Check out a chronological breakdown of the game action below as Florida’s second loss of the season unfolded.

The Gators are off to a slow start

Florida actually scored the first five points thanks to a game-opening layup by Lofton as well as a 3-pointer by [autotag]CJ Felder[/autotag], but Xavier responded with 14 unanswered points to give them a comfortable cushion six minutes into the game. The early run was fueled by a mix of outside and inside shots as well as some scores from the charity stripe.

… but managed to stay tough for most of the first half

Castleton capped the run with a dunk to make it 14-7. The Gators continued to chip away at the lead until a Bonham free throw knotted it at 21 with just over nine minutes remaining. The two teams battled back and forth, tying and trading the lead until the final two minutes.

A weak finish in the first half put Florida in a hole

Todd Golden’s team missed a chance to go into the locker room in sharp fashion, allowing Xavier to take a four-point lead that it eventually held at the end of the half. Florida looked out of sync and lacked focus during the crunch. The Gators finished 48 percent from the floor overall, but the Musketeers shot 59 percent while the two teams nearly pulled down the same number of boards at 16 and 15, respectively.

The Gators came out swinging in the second half

A four-point halftime deficit turned into a three-point lead in the first three minutes of the second frame. A pair of free throws pushed the lead to six to open things up for Xavier, but Florida was able to outrun their opponents and get the upper hand. The stretch ended with a 3-pointer by Kugel and it was the level of play Golden wants to see.

A five-point swing took the momentum away from Florida

A missed dunk on a layup by Alex Fudge with the game tied at 58, followed by a transition three by Xavier, took the wind out of the Gators’ sails. The Musketeers would drain three more turnovers shortly after to push their lead to six, completely deflating Florida’s confidence. The deficit would be as large as 11 before…

Florida came back with a bang

The Gators let things slip away and hung around long enough to put together a small run of their own, cutting the lead to two with 5:39 left on a Castleton post-up jumper. The push was enough to force Xavier to call a timeout.

But it just wasn’t enough

The Gators couldn’t break that two-point barrier and ultimately fell short of the win. Things got a little ugly at the end with Xavier taunting Florida as the Musketeers closed the door in the final minutes. But overall, the Gators just cruised through the game thanks in large part to Xavier’s ability to shut down Castleton on offense.

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The story originally appeared on Gators Wire

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