By Matt Tait —
Gainesville, Fla. — In hopes of snapping out of a funk that had contributed to losses in two of its past three games, the Kansas University men's basketball team sent four freshman to the floor to start Tuesday's game at Florida.
It's believed that it marked the first time in school history that the Jayhawks have started four freshmen and throughout much of the night it definitely looked like it, as Kansas was outmanned and outmuscled by a stronger, more experienced Florida squad, 67-61, at a rocking O'Connell Center on the UF campus.
After another solid start, the Jayhawks were outscored 33-11 by the Gators during the final 16 minutes of the first half and that forced KU to play from behind the rest of the way. KU pulled to within as few as six on a couple of occasions during a much better second half — and even as low as four with 11 seconds left — but untimely misses and some clutch play from the Gators (7-2) handed the Jayhawks their third loss in four games.
Andrew Wiggins (7-for-14 shooting, 11 rebounds) led all scorers with 26 points.
After a 5-0 start and reaching No. 2 in the AP national rankings, No. 13 KU has fallen to 6-3 and will likely drop in the rankings again next week.
Here’s a quick look back at some of Tuesday's action:
• The game turned when: Florida responded to KU's 10-3 start with a 21-0 run that spanned more than eight minutes and proved to be a blow to the chin that the Jayhawks just could not recover from.
• Offensive highlight: Outside of a couple of timely three-pointers and a couple of easy throw-downs by Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid, there really weren't many. KU shot just 44 percent from the floor, 44 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free throw line. All in all, outside of Wiggins, it was a pretty offensive offensive game.
• Defensive highlight: Embiid was far from flawless and struggled to stay on his feet against pump fakes, but he had a couple of monster blocks, including one in the first half that truly did look like a volleyball spike.
• Key stat: Turnovers. The Jayhawks coughed it up 16 times in the first half (and attempted just 19 shots) and finished with 24 turnovers for the game. Most of them were just flat-out careless miscues but some were definitely a product of Florida's intense style.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will continue their stretch of games away from Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo., where they'll take on New Mexico at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.