Some observations following No. 7 Florida’s 108-87 win over Stanford on Thursday night at the PK80 Tournament in Portland, Ore.
— It was nice to see the ball hopping around. After some stagnant stretches in only finishing with 3 assists against New Hampshire, Florida finished with 23 assists in the Stanford win. In one pretty first-half sequence, five quick passes set up a wide open 3-pointer for Florida senior forward Egor Koulechov, who went 5 for 5 from beyond the arc in the game. Point guard Chris Chiozza, who had a career high 11 assists, had a beautiful full court pass that led to a Koulechov layup in transition as well. Granted, Florida struggled to shoot the ball against New Hampshire, which led to a lower assist total. But better ball movement leads to better looks, and Florida knocked down those looks tonight.
— With the Gators building a 33-point lead in the second half, Florida’s freshmen were able to get plenty of playing time. But while Deaundrae Ballard and Chase Johnson may have higher upsides, the most impressive freshman and biggest surprise has been the play of freshman backup point guard Mike Okauru. I thought turnovers would be an issue for Okauru but he’s been steady with the ball (one turnover in 20 minutes) and looks to be the most composed of UF’s three freshmen. Okauru had an efficient night against Stanford, scoring 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the floor and 2 of 3 shooting from 3-point range, with two rebounds and two assists. Ballard added 13 points in 19 minutes off the bench and had some nice finishes in the second half.
— With Florida center Kevarrius Hayes suspended for one game for violating team rules, Florida went small with Keith Stone at center, while starting 6-5 Egor Koulechov at power forward with 6-6 guard Jalen Hudson, 6-0 point guard Chris Chiooza and 6-2 shooting guard KeVaughn Allen. The smaller lineup with five perimeter threats turned out to be effective. Florida sank 15 3-pointers and wasn’t beaten badly on the boards (Stanford barely outrebounded UF 28-27 despite its size advantage). It will be interesting to see if White sticks with the smaller lineup when Hayes returns on Friday night, with Hayes replacing Stone at center.