The last time we saw Florida, the Gators were leading Duke all the way to the wire before falling late to the Blue Devils at the PK80. We expected Mike White's team to not miss a beat when it hit the floor on Monday night.
We expected wrong.
Maybe it was the eight-day layoff, maybe it was the coaching change with their gridiron counterparts, maybe it was the weather. But the November version of Florida didn't carry over to December, as the Gators were blown out at home by Florida State 83-66.
Florida State is probably not as good as it was last season, when it won 26 games and reached the NCAA tournament. But the Seminoles are better than expected. In fact, with them now 7-0 and favored to win each of its next five games, there's a good chance they enter ACC play 12-0. They open ACC play at Duke and home against North Carolina, so we'll see how good they really are soon enough.
But what happened to Florida?
Looking at the past few games, the Gators have been playing with fire for a few weeks now. Scoring more than 100 points and beating Stanford and Gonzaga was impressive, but Florida made 32 combined 3-pointers in those two games -- shooting 68.2 percent from 3-point range against Stanford and 47.2 percent against Gonzaga. Moreover, the offense masked some of the defensive deficiencies in those wins. Florida allowed 1.10 points per possession against Stanford and 1.17 against Gonzaga.
It caught up to them a bit against Duke, although the Gators still shot 40 percent from 3 and were efficient enough offensively. But we could have seen a regression to the mean starting to develop. Throw in a small lineup that doesn't force turnovers at a high clip and doesn't control the defensive glass, and Monday was the perfect storm for Florida State to pull the upset.
Florida had its worst offensive performance of the season, scoring fewer than one point per possession (0.89) for the first time this season. The Gators shot 6-for-25 from 3-point range and allowed Florida State to rebound 50 percent of its missed shots. That's not going to be enough to beat anyone, let alone a tough, physical team like the Seminoles.
Playing the way Florida plays, it is going to have games like this. When the Gators' 3-point shots fall, they're going to be able to beat anyone in the country. When the shots don't fall, they'll be susceptible to an upset. The only other game this season in which they shot poorly from 3-point range was against New Hampshire, when they shot 3-for-18 from behind the arc. The Gators won that game by only seven. For a reference point, New Hampshire won its first Division I game of the season on Saturday -- against 1-7 Bryant.
Florida is still one of the most entertaining teams in the country, and when it is making shots, it is one of the best teams in the country.
But Monday certainly didn't feature that version of the Gators.