Gritty Gators are the Real Deal

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In five games, the 2021 Florida Gators basketball team has already proven that they can play with anyone. After entering the season unranked and with little national buzz, this senior group has quickly won over many in the college basketball world with their aggressive brand of defense, senior leadership, and all out hustle and intensity from start to finish.


The Gators have handled business in the games they have been heavy favorites, taken down a prospective top five NBA draft pick, ended an eight-year drought against their in-state rival, and pulled off a dramatic come from behind victory over a quality opponent on a neutral floor. To put it simply, they are winning, and they are doing it in variety of ways. They have shown amazing poise, composure, grit, and toughness, as well as a winning attitude in all facets of the game. Assuming another solid showing in their next game (VS Troy on Sunday, 11/28 at 12:00 on SEC Network), I fully anticipate a top 15 ranking come Monday, with an argument for it being even higher.


Speaking of that come from behind victory, the Gators game against Ohio State might be the game of the year in the early going of this College Basketball season. This matchup was easily one of the most physical games that will be played all year, with neither team giving an inch. Ohio State was led by an impressive performance from their frontcourt stud E.J. Liddell (23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks). It seemed like every time the Gators got within striking distance, Liddell would make another clutch basket or block to spark momentum for the Buckeyes. However, Tyree Appleby would steal the headlines with a buzzer beating three from nearly 30 feet out to give Florida an incredible 71-68 win, but there was so much to learn about the Gators from the way this game played out.


At one point in the second half, the Gators were struggling offensively, and the Ohio State lead swelled to ten points. In years past, Mike White’s team would not have had the belief that they could come back and win this game, and most likely would have let go of the proverbial rope and lost by 15 to 20 points. It would have been very easy to do that in this game; shots weren’t falling, the ball was bouncing the way of the Buckeyes, it did not feel like it was the Gators’ night. But that line of thinking is not how this edition of Gators Basketball is wired. Despite trailing for most of the game, UF’s intensity never waned. Players were diving for loose balls, fighting for offensive rebounds, and attacking their opponents on both ends of the court. Watching the game, I again found myself drawing comparisons between the style and mentality of this year’s Gators and that of the 2013-2014 Final Four Gators. Gator Nation can only hope that this team continues to parallel the immense success of that squad as the season continues, but through five games the reasons to question if it is possible are quickly disappearing.

About Post Author

Zach High

Creator and Founder of Gator Central. Writer and analyst with a passion for sports, statistics, and of course, all things Florida Gators.
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  • Creator and Founder of Gator Central. Writer and analyst with a passion for sports, statistics, and of course, all things Florida Gators.

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