GatorsTerritory - UF's strong performance in the second half leads to their 6th win of 2019
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UF's strong performance in the second half leads to their 6th win of 2019

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It was a tale of two halves for No. 24 Florida men's basketball on Saturday.

After a lackluster first half, the Gators soon found themselves behind to an unranked Marshall.

It wasn't until the final 20 seconds that a stepback by Andrew Nembhard and two free throws by Noah Locke secured the 73-67 win.

Florida wasn’t extremely sharp with a four-day break between the Charleston Classic and Friday’s matchup.

In the first half, the Gators failed to record a single assist and were sloppy with the ball as well. As a team, they had six turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play as they were unable to establish a rhythm on the offensive end.

There were a couple of questionable calls, but another area where Florida struggled in was with the amount of fouls they committed. The Gators had seven personal fouls in the period, and two by Kerry Blackshear Jr. limited the talented big man to playing just 11 minutes.

Although they shot just 30% from the field and made no three-pointers, a bright spot for UF was the production they received from Ques Glover. The true freshman recorded 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and went 4-of-5 from the charity stripe in the first 20 minutes of the game.

The team did create second-chance opportunities for themselves with six offensive rebounds, with a couple of them coming from Scottie Lewis. Even with Blackshear Jr. limited, the team was able to crash the boards and collected 24 rebounds in the first half.

Whatever the message was at halftime by the coaches, Mike White’s group stepped up to the challenge in the second half.

They trailed 25-33 to start the next period of play, but responded with a 19-6 run in the first eight minutes of the half.

One of the key storylines here was the performance of UF’s talented trio of sophomores. Nembhard, Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke combined for just 2 points on 1-of-11 shooting in the first half, but turned things around against the Thundering Herd.

The three players scored 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field (3-of-4 from distance) to give the Gators a much-needed boost in the second half. They also attacked the basket well, which paid off with the sophomores converting on all eight of their attempts from the charity stripe.

While Florida did manage to go up by 11 points with over 3 minutes to go in the game, Marshall refused to go away. The visitors went on a 13-4 run in just over two minutes to cut UF's lead down to two points with 42 seconds left to go in the game.

Fortunately for the Gators, Nembhard drained a stepback shot in the paint to essentially clinch the victory for his team. Dontay Bassett had a block on the other end to prevent Marshall from cutting it down to one possession, and Locke drained two free throws to seal the deal.

Overall, White and company won't be happy with some of the final stats from Florida's six-point victory on Friday. The team recorded just four assists, had 14 turnovers and committed 13 fouls against Marshall.

UF will look to correct those mistakes on Saturday, Dec. 7, when they take on Butler on the road. Tip-off for that matchup is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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