Three observations following Florida’s 83-66 win at No. 11 Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
— Junior center Kevarrius Hayes looks like a different player since Christmas break. Hayes is never going to be a prolific post scorer, but held his own inside against Texas A&M forward Robert Williams inside defensively, while putting together a complete floor game with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocked shots. Hayes is averaging 4.5 blocks in two SEC games and made things uncomfortable for Williams inside, limiting the future NBA Lottery pick to 12 points on 5 of 12 shooting. Florida also did a nice job of collapsing inside defensively on both Williams and junior center Tyler Davis, who was held to 12 points. “(Assistant) Coach (Jeremy) Mincy had a good scouting report, and we were able to execute it,” Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza said.
— Freshman guard Deaundrae Ballard went with a new look for the Texas A&M game, unbraiding his hair and letting it flow. It suited Ballard just fine. The 6-foot-5 Ballard was excellent off the bench with 8 points and 3 assists and was more under control, not looking to shoot first every time he had the ball. “I don’t know if he’s had three assists in practice,” Florida coach Mike White said. “I thought he played with a high level of maturity tonight.” Junior guard Jalen Hudson also had 11 points off the bench, going 3 of 4 from 3-point range. As a team, Florida outscored Texas A&M 19-10 in bench points.
— Given the amount of threes that were fired up (28 by Florida and 19 by Texas A&M), neither team was able to get to the foul line much on Tuesday night. After getting to the free throw line 30 times against Vanderbilt, Florda got to the line just once, with Hudson missing UF’s lone attempt in the second half while trying to convert a 3-point play. Texas A&M, meanwhile, went to the line just 5 times, making 4. Credit the Gators for playing disciplined defense without fouling. Florida had just 12 fouls the entire game, compared to 9 fouls for Texas A&M.