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Florida has no one to blame but itself for collapse

Mar 24, 2012, 7:19 PM EDT

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan watches from the sidelines as his team plays the Louisville Cardinals during the NCAA men's West Regional basketball tournament in Phoenix

Say what you will about Louisville’s move from their 2-3 matchup zone to a switching man-to-man after the first half making the difference for the Cardinals.

Florida knocked down eight 3-pointers in building a 41-33 halftime lead, only to not make another the remainder of the game. However the defensive adjustment by Louisville produced another opening for Florida, as they were able to use the pick and roll to their advantage.

With 8:14 remaining Florida led 65-54 following a Patric Young dunk, and simply continuing to take good shots likely would have resulted in their first Final Four appearance since 2007.

But Florida got away from what was working, exercising questionable shot selection down the stretch as Louisville closed the game on an 18-3 run. Louisville advances by the final score of 72-68, and Florida is left to think about what could have been.

After that Young dunk Florida attempted just two shots around the rim the remainder of the game, with both being missed layup attempts by Bradley Beal.

“I don’t know if we did a great job offensively of taking advantage of what was open,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan. “I thought we stood around too much, I thought we over-handled.  I don’t think we got the ball where it needed to go.  And we allowed them on some empty possessions to dwindle the lead back down.”

Florida was one of the best perimeter shooting teams in America this season, leading the country in 3-pointers made both per game (9.6) and for the season (357), and they made 38% of those shots (2nd in the SEC).

The confidence in those perimeter shots has been both a gift and a curse for Florida throughout the season, with the Gators struggling when they forget about Young in the paint or the fact that they’re talented enough to not have to settle for poor shots.

For the second straight season Florida allowed a double-digit lead slip away in the Elite Eight, last year falling to Butler in overtime and shot selection was an issue in that defeat as well.

After three games of very good play the Gators reverted to bad habits against Louisville, and it got them beat.

Raphielle Johnson is the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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