What the Gators must do to climb the SEC standings.

After falling in the round of 32 last season, the Florida Gators have started the 2022 men’s college basketball season slowly. They are just 3-4 in conference play.

NCAA basketball odds never showed the Gators as title candidates, but this opening to the season represents a disappointment. Seven SEC teams have lost fewer overall games than Florida, and their recent loss to Ole Miss only increased the doubts about what this team can become as the season develops.

They face Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky in the next three or so weeks. It’s now or never to make a push in the SEC – they are already 4.5 games back in the conference.

What’s required for the Gators to turn their season around

Gators vs LSU AP/PHOTO

Improve on Offense

Florida is 187th among Division 1 teams in scoring per game. Their 104.2 offensive rating is just above average.

While those base numbers aren’t pretty reading for Gators fans, there are some positive signs with this offense. They are the SEC leaders in two-point field goal percentage, and their quantity of three-point shots is good even if they are shooting under 30% as a team.

ShotQuality.com places them in the 78th percentile in rim and three rate. Just 21 teams rank better in adjusted shot quality. The offensive plan is solid. It’s generating the looks teams want.

Converting good shots into points is where the problem lies, though. They rank 324th in three-point percentage. Tyree Appleby and Myreon Jones are the only players on the roster making more than 0.9 threes per game.

Cutting down the number of threes taken is an option for the Gators if the shots don’t fall. Yet, their offense could soon come down to a numbers disadvantage if they rely too heavily on attempts inside the arc.

Ultimately, the offense is putting a limit on how good Florida can be this season. The team is consistently walking a tightrope with the offense unable to pull them through tight games. While defense-first can be a successful formula in March Madness, the Gators need to step up their scoring to get to the tournament.

LSU forward Alex Fudge (3) drives for the basket against Florida guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr., right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Keep Up The Defense

The Gators rank 29th in adjusted defensive rating on the season. Only four SEC teams boast a better mark. This is a team which excels at forcing turnovers and blocking shots – they rank top 20 in both categories.

Quite simply, Florida has been riding its defense so far. Their offense leaves plenty to be desired, while the defense is considerably better than average.

If it’s a question of talent holding back the offense, the defense has no such concerns. This isn’t just the benefit of poor opponent shooting. Florida is protecting the rim and limiting three-point looks. The only area of good fortune is opponents struggling at the free-throw line.

With the offense not finishing plays, the defense is having to deal with more transition than we might expect. Staying locked in on that end of the floor is key for the Gators if they are to make any progress in the SEC standings through February.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.