Florida blown out by WVU in Phil Knight Legacy Tournament 5th-place game




 

Florida basketball suffered a brutal 29-point loss to West Virginia on Sunday night to finish sixth in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.

Will Richard scored a quick five points to get Florida out to a hot start, but it was all downhill from there. Colin Castleton ran into foul trouble. So did his backup. Suddenly, Florida was down double digits and scrambling to keep the game close at the half. A nine-point deficit at the break seemed merciful at the time, but West Virginia went for the early dagger in the second half.

The Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-point lead with nearly 16 minutes left to play and never looked back. Florida heaved up contested layups in hopes of scoring. Many were batted away. The bigs were too scared to fight for a rebound after a first half filled with whistles, and WVU ran away with things to a near 30-point win and a 2-1 finish at the tournament.

For Florida, the honeymoon of the Golden era is over. There are serious problems with this team, and the coaching moves haven't brought any noticeable change aside from personnel. If there's one thing Gator Nation cares about, it's winning, and the Gators don't look like a winning club right now.

Here are five thoughts following an embarrassing loss to close the holiday weekend.

Florida's big men get into foul trouble

Both of Florida's centers ran into some early foul trouble against West Virginia, and it's really what determined the game. Colin Castleton picked up a quick three fouls, bringing in [autotag]Jason Jitoboh[/autotag] to eat some minutes, and the backup bested him by fouling four times in the half. Florida didn't exactly switch to a small ball lineup, but the bigs were forced to play scared for the entirety of the second half.

Florida's strength isn't down low, but it does run its offense through Castleton. If he's not on the court, things get one-dimensional, and this game was an example of just how ugly things can get if the opposition figures it out.

The biggest problem is that some of these fouls were entirely avoidable. Castleton plays overly physical when he's outmatched physically, and these refs weren't having it. Even if Castleton and Jitoboh thought the referees were a bit quick to the whistle, there's no excuse for not adjusting by the end of the first half.

Is it time to be worried about Colin Castleton

It's officially time to raise the panic level on Colin Castleton. This three-game stretch in Portland has seen his production drop off significantly, and it looks like the on-the-court struggles are getting to his head. He finished with a season-low three points and five rebounds.

Size is clearly an issue for Castleton. He's tall enough at a legit 6-foot-11-inches, but he's not as strong as he needs to be to succeed in the NBA down low. He's put on some weight since last season, but Golden's job is to teach him how to leverage his weight and beat opposing bigs.

The worst thing for Castleton this early in the season would be if he started overthinking things. Slumps happen, and Castleton's draft stock is on the line season. Scouts are going to care much more about how Castleton plays against the conference than some early-season tournament under a new head coach. But he needs to erase these games from his memory once back in Gainesville.

Things went from bad to worse in the second half

The first half of the game was bad, but the second half was embarrassing. Florida looked like he didn't want to be in Portland anymore and was just waiting for the buzzer to sound. The Gators cut into the lead at the end of the first half to bring the game back within single digits, but they'd have no such luck after the break.

WVU outperformed Florida in nearly every major statistical category and outscored the Gators by 19 en route to a blowout win. Somehow, this is the same Florida team that erased a 17-point first-half deficit in Tallahassee a week ago, but you wouldn't guess it even if you watched both games back-to-back.

The honeymoon period is over for Golden

If the loss to Florida Atlantic didn't do it, this trip to Portland should have snapped whatever rose-colored glasses Florida fans had on for Todd Golden. That's not to say that he can't succeed at Florida or that the season is already lost, but things have been ugly through the first seven games of the season and are trending down.

Gator Nation was excited to see what a young, analytical head coach would bring to Florida, but now they just want to see the team win against anyone with a name. Xavier and West Virginia are fine programs, but they are the kind of programs the top teams in the SEC beat. Florida has a long way to go until it's back at the top, and that reality is hitting hard after a 1-2 run in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.

Any bright spots?

It's hard not to be negative after a blowout loss like this, but [autotag]Kyle Lofton[/autotag] deserves a bit of praise for putting up some points on a night the rest of his team took off. It wasn't always pretty, but Lofton finished the night with 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting. He was a bit off from three-point range, but at least he made some buckets when the bigs had to slow it down.

Honorable mention to [autotag]Riley Kugel[/autotag] for answering Emmit Matthews Jr.'s highlight slam dunk with one of his own and finishing the night with six points on 50% shooting.

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