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 :