Gators shoot lights out in upset win at No. 11 Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Florida stood up to the physical challenge to pull off an upset at No. 11 Texas A&M on Tuesday night.

Some excellent ball movement and perimeter shooting helped as well.

Senior forward Egor Koulechov led three UF scorers in double figures with 19 points, while redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone added a career-high 18 points, lifting the Gators to a stunning 83-66 win over Texas A&M at Reed Arena.

The Gators (10-4, 2-0 SEC) won their fourth straight and improved to 3-1 on the season against ranked teams. Koulechov, a grad transfer who played college basketball 90 minutes down the road in Houston at Rice last season, was red-hot in his return to Texas, going 5-of-6 from 3-point range.

“I’m familiar with the state,” Koulechov said. “I had a few people who came to support me. But it’s not about me. It’s about the team. It was a great win. I thought our effort was great. We just took a step.”

Senior point guard Chris Chiozza added 12 points and 9 assists for UF, which shot 51.6 percent from the field and 60.7 percent (17-28) from 3-point range. Florida matched its season high of 17 3-pointers, last recorded on Nov. 24 in another win over a ranked team against Gonzaga.

“Sometimes, when you make a few early, it snowballs for you,” Florida coach Mike White said. “It certainly has happened to this team, this Gator team, certainly a few times this year, where you kind of see it in their eyes. We have a few very good shooters, and when you get off to a good start, sometimes you can carry that momentum for 40 minutes.”

The Gators scored their 33 baskets off 25 assists.

“I don’t think we took a selfish shot all night,” White said. “We’re continuing to grow together.”

Florida held Texas A&M’s top two inside scorers, 6-foot-10 center Tyler Davis and 6-11 forward Robert Williams, to 12 points apiece. Davis went 5-of-11 from the floor, while Williams went 5-of-12.

The Aggies cut Florida’s lead to 55-45 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Chris Collins with 15:11 left. But Koulechov answered for the Gators with a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which was set up by a baseline drive and kick out by Chiozza, to put the Gators back up 61-45. From there, Florida extended its lead to as many as 23 points in the second half.

“We were able to hit some timely shots which quieted the crowd a little bit,” White said.


Photos: Florida at Texas A&M


Texas A&M (11-3, 0-2 SEC) played without its top three perimeter threats. Leading scorer D.J. Hogg (14.6 points) sat out his third straight game on a disciplinary suspension. Junior guard Admon Gilder remained out due to a knee injury, while starting point guard Duane Wilson was out with a leg injury he suffered in the Aggies’ SEC opener at Alabama. Freshman guard Jay Jay Chandler led Texas A&M with 17 points.

Florida got off to a hot start in its first true road game of the season. The Gators made five of their first seven 3-point attempts, jumping to a 33-17 lead on Stone’s third 3-pointer of the half.

Texas A&M answered with a quick 7-0 run, cutting Florida’s lead to 33-24 on back-to-back transition baskets from Chandler. But the Gators were able to regain momentum on a Jalen Hudson 3-pointer, and carried it into the rest of the half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Koulechov and Chiozza put Florida back up 44-27. After a Chandler 3-pointer off an in bounds cut UF’s lead to 44-30, Chiozza set up a late Florida basket on a wild sequence. After getting blocked on a drive by Williams, Chiozza stripped Williams underneath the basket, then after the steal found Hayes for an inside layup to put Florida up 46-30 at the half.

“We didn’t force (shots),” Chiozza said. “We let stuff develop. We got out and just moved the ball around and got the rotations going and found the open guy early. It probably looked a lot like it did in Portland (at the PK80 Tournament), but it felt good to get out early like that, get some easy baskets.”

The Gators were up for the physical challenge against Texas A&M early, outrebounding the Aggies 17-13 in the first half, while shooting 56.3 percent from the field and 62.5 percent (10-16) from 3-point range. Florida made the extra pass all half, scoring its 18 baskets off 14 assists.

Junior center Kevarrius Hayes had another solid game inside with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Hayes is averaging 4.5 blocks in two SEC games.

FLORIDA 83, No. 11 TEXAS A&M 66
FLORIDA (10-4)

Stone 7-14 0-0 18, Hayes 4-4 0-0 8, Koulechov 7-13 0-0 19, Allen 3-7 0-0 7, Chiozza 5-12 0-0 12, Gak 0-2 0-0 0, Hudson 4-6 0-1 11, Ballard 3-6 0-0 8, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-64 0-1 83.

TEXAS A&M (11-3)

Williams 5-12 2-2 12, Davis 5-11 1-2 12, Caldwell 4-10 1-1 9, Chandler 7-11 0-0 17, Flagg 2-7 0-0 6, Jasey 1-1 0-0 2, Trocha-Morelos 1-5 0-0 3, Collins 1-3 0-0 3, Starks 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 27-63 4-5 66.

Halftime_Florida 46-30. 3-Point Goals_Florida 17-28 (Koulechov 5-6, Stone 4-6, Hudson 3-4, Ballard 2-3, Chiozza 2-4, Allen 1-5), Texas A&M 8-19 (Chandler 3-4, Flagg 2-4, Collins 1-3, Trocha-Morelos 1-3, Davis 1-3, Caldwell 0-1, Starks 0-1). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida 27 (Hayes 7), Texas A&M 38 (Williams 11). Assists_Florida 25 (Chiozza 9), Texas A&M 17 (Caldwell 7). Total Fouls_Florida 12, Texas A&M 9.

Kevin Brockway :

View Comments (26)

  • Nice complete game from the Gators. Very reminiscent of the games in Portand when they knew that they were outmanned in the interior and played really good help defense. Also, a great job at not letting A&M get back into the game. Right now T A&M doesn't have that extra gear that teams like Duke does to be able to turn it up when the other team tries to take the air out of the ball, but Chiozza and Co. took good care of the ball for the last 5min. of the game to maintain the solid lead. Great game Gators....keep it going.

  • Well said Corey and David. When these guys are on, nobody can hang with them scoring. Stone is an important part of the offensive mix. Pick your poison with three or four perimeter marksmen.

    That was a huge road win to set the tone for conference play. Go Gators!

  • Win by the three. Die by the three. That's not a recipe for a deep tournament run. We need an inside presence. Bad.

    • This isn't really an accurate statement. At all. It would be true, I suppose, if these guys were jacking up contested 3s all night, but if you watched the game that clearly wasn't the case. The concept that Mike White teaches is these guys is screens at the top along with active ball movement around the perimeter, with the sole objective of finding the open shooter. The idea is that an uncontested or lightly contested shot is far more likely to go in than a contested shot. So if solid screens and good ball movement creates an open shooter on the perimeter, White wants these guys to confidently take that shot. It's not his fault or the team's fault that Texas A&M crashed down into the paint and left guys open on the perimeter. This team takes what it is given by their opponent. This was a masterful game. White's creativity with his lineups to make up for the lack of a dominant big is paying off. And Chiozza is one of the best game managers at the point in college basketball.

      • Explain the 4 losses then. And why won't future teams defend as the four winning opponents did. Texas A & M is not a good team or well coached. Defend the 3 point line is the simple recipe to beat the one-dimensional Gators. I would simply like to see some diversity, which may not occur this year as Egbunu will likely not return to his dominant presence this season with the ACL injury.

        • The 4 losses all happened before January 1, so who cares? That's how you explain them. You can't expect 11 guys to immediately mesh. They learn and grow and the coach figures out how to best maximize his weapons. The players figure out what the coach wants and then ultimately figure out how to execute what he wants. It's a process. There's nothing wrong with shooting a 3, as long as it's an open shot. Open shots are high percentage shots, period. Your correlation between 3-point percentage and wins just doesn't add up. We beat Cincinnati and shot 40% from 3, and we lost to Clemson and shot 42% from beyond the arc. We didn't take any more 3s than usual last night, we just made more than usual, but again that's because the ones we took were mostly open looks.

          Some interesting stats: we average about 64 shot attempts per game and of those about 24-25 are 3 point attempts (38%); our opponents have averaged 59 shots per game and 21 of those are 3 pointers (36%). So we take slightly more 3s than our opponents (so far). A somewhat negligible difference. But the more important number in there is the difference between possessions. We have averaged 5 more possessions per game. That's outstanding. That means we are forcing more turnovers. And that's where we have our edge - turnovers. Have a look at the stats. This team wins when it forces turnovers and turns the ball over less than its opponents. Last night was the perfect encapsulation of that game plan - we turned the ball over 7 times to TA&M's 16. You want a strong correlation, THAT is your strong correlation. And that is Mike White basketball. These kids are buying into that.

    • Well said! Being honest or having an opinion doesn't mean your being negative it's just being realistic which is what coaches will do so pleased to win but we have a lot of issues to work on! With need an inside game to advance in the NCAA's and win on the road.

    • Agree! This team has early exit in NCAA written all over it without inside help and A&M was missing 3 key players so you have to be happy about the win but also realistic about this team plus our defense is Jekyll and Hyde and at times is absolutely horrible which was rarely an issue last year! Plenty of time to keep improving!

      • Hey John, we were missing and have been missing our big inside guys, don't that sort of makes the playing field even?. Injuries do happen, and we have been dealing with them all along, why can you just say Great Win Gators, get healthy and keep up the good work!!. I assure you it sounds much better than making excuses for the other team and enhances the effort put out by OUR team.

        • Hey Alfred Rose, I did if you actually read my post as I said happy about the win and I was not making excuses for A&M just telling it like it is putting the win in perspective as I'm sure our coaches are doing also. An honest assessment is not disrespectful to OUR team!

          • I'm also thrilled with any win. But the Gators can't count on shooting 61% from the 3 point line every game. A one-dimensional offense is not going to go very far. When the sharp-shooters hit a wall again, as during the 3 game losing streak, the losses will again happen. Egbunu is not going to be in playing shape for a couple of months, if even this season.

    • What would you like them to do until they are completely healthy? Jeez man, they beat a ranked conference opponent on the road by double digits. Enjoy the moment. I'm sure they are.

    • That is a dangerous recipe BBQ Sauce, but when you have a lack of depth on the inside and have good help defense like they did last night, on top of good ball movement and off-the-ball movement like they did last night, you are going to end up feeling very confident with the 3s that you take. Hopefully that inside presence returns in Feb., because you are also right that hoping for that every game will be a hard task and make it difficult for a deep March run.

  • The jury shall be out on this team.They had wins against quality teams, but also head
    scratching losses against inferior teams, at home no less.
    I’ll reserve judgement until they’re back to full strength by end of the month hopefully.

    • The wins and losses tend to correlate pretty well with the 3 pointer success percentage.

      Again, living and dying by the three. That's not good against better teams.

  • Florida is 2-0 in the SEC. While 11th ranked Texas A&M is 0-2. ''What comes around, goes around.''
    And since some Gator fans can't get their heads out of the (3 months away and enjoy the journey) NCAA Tourney, that was another solid resume win. Go Gators!

    • Exactly. And fans give WAY too much weight to pre-conference, pre-January games. This is the real season now. Pre-January games are all about figuring out who you are and what works best. It's about seeing how you stack up to some of the big boys and what you need to do to match up better in the future. Who cares that they dropped 4 games. They beat some tough teams and hung tough with some other tough teams. Great learning experience. Now it gets serious. And so far, so good.

  • Hmm, no comment from Mikey today? After saying that this team wouldn't win many games and wasn't any good? Look, this was a shorthanded aTm team. And The 3's will come and go but the defense was solid for a majority of the game. Defense like that will carry this team into the tourney, when Big John will be healthy and we can hopefully have more of an ability to run offense in the half court without needing a 3. Jalen Hudson isn't healthy either right now, arguably our best scorer. So the were hyper focused on aTm losing players, but we were playing with Hudson at about 70% or less and no Egbunu ourselves.

  • "The Gators were up for the physical challenge against Texas A&M early, outrebounding the Aggies 17-13 in the first half..." I can't verify the first half stat but the final stat is Aggies outrebounding Gators 39 - 29.

    Didn't both Hayes and Stone ended first half with no fouls? I think the winning recipe is keeping them out of foul trouble. Hayes played 33 min and Stone played 30 min. I suspect that's well above their season average. It would be interesting to compare their minutes in games we won vs games we lost.

  • Kind of weird that a game that was touted beforehand as being a physical bloodbath ended up with 21 fouls, and most of those came late in the game. Reffing can be so uneven.