Florida handles La Salle, 82-69

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Florida senior guard Jalen Hudson drives on the La Salle Explorers on Wednesday at the O'Connell Center. Hudson led three Florida scorers in double figures with 15 points, lifting the Gators to an 82-69 win. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Mike White wanted to see Florida attack the paint a little more in the Gators’ third game of the season.

He got his wish.

Florida scored 46 points in the paint Wednesday night to handle La Salle 82-69 to finish off a two-game home stand before a trip next week to the Bahamas.

“Paint touches has been a message for about a week for us,” the Florida coach said. “We’ve talked about that a lot lately.

“When you are scoring inside, you don’t feel the necessity to take an early jump shot. Hopefully, we’ll have some carryover. We all know we’ve struggled with interior production the last two years. It’s nice to see.”

Florida (2-1) only took 13 3-point shots in the game, instead driving the ball to the basket and setting up interior post shots.

“I like the fact that guys were putting it on the floor a little more,” said center Kevarrius Hayes. “Like KeVaughn (Allen) getting to the foul line more. You don’t have to shoot it (from the outside).”

Allen finished the game with eight points, all on free throws. Jalen Hudson led Florida with 15 points, only six of them coming on shots behind the arc.

With La Salle playing a four-guard lineup for much of the game, the Gators were able to attack the rim with bigs as well as guards.

Florida went on a 17-1 spurt early in the second half to run away from the Explorers (0-3). The run was led by senior Hayes and freshman Keyontae Johnson, who combined for 13 of the 17 points.

“It started off the front of the press,” said Johnson, who also finished with a season-high 12 points. “They put pressure on the ball and made it easier for me a Kevarrius on the back end.”

Hayes was limited by foul trouble in the first half, but attacked the second half with a vengeance. In addition to his 12 points, he also had a team-leading six rebounds.

“It was a loud 12 and six,” White said of Hayes. “We were so much better with him on the floor. There was a defensive lapse when he went out in the second half. Defensively, with him on the floor we were much better.

“He cares about winning as much as anybody on our team. We know what we’re getting from Kevarrius every day. For him to have a good game individually, it’s nice to see.”

Florida also got nine points and two assists from redshirt freshman Isaiah Stokes.

“He was close to having a very good game,” White said.

Freshman Andrew Nembhard had seven points and three steals for the Gators, who face Oklahoma on Wednesday in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Nembhard played 26 minutes despite a hip flexor injury that limited him in practice.

One negative was that Florida only made three shots from beyond the arc and is now 17-of-65 for the season.

“I’m really not concerned,” White said. “Call me crazy. I think we shoot the ball pretty well.”

FREE THROWS: Florida announced the signings of two players Wednesday with a third expected to become official today. Scottie Lewis, a 6-foot-5 forward from Eatontown, N.J., and Omar Payne, a 6-foot-9 center from Montverde Academy, both became official signees. Lewis is a 5-star prospect according to 24/7 and Payne is a 4-star. Five-star, 6-3 point guard Tre Mann of The Villages is expected to be cleared today after signing late Wednesday.

NEXT UP: Florida faces Oklahoma in Paradise Island, Bahamas, in the Battle 4 Atlantis Wednesday at noon on ESPN.

FLORIDA 82, LA SALLE 69
LA SALLE (0-3)

Kimbrough 2-4 1-6 5, Brookins 2-3 1-1 5, Carter 2-7 0-0 5, Beatty 5-8 0-0 13, Powell 7-14 5-6 21, Croswell 2-3 1-2 5, Mosely 0-2 2-2 2, Deas 4-11 0-0 10, Moultrie 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 25-53 11-18 69.

FLORIDA (2-1)

Stone 1-2 2-2 4, Hayes 5-5 2-4 12, Allen 0-3 8-8 8, Nembhard 2-6 0-0 4, Hudson 6-12 1-2 15, Stokes 3-5 3-3 9, Bassett 0-0 0-2 0, K.Johnson 5-7 2-2 12, C.Johnson 3-4 0-1 6, Okauru 1-2 0-0 2, Fava 0-1 1-2 1, Ballard 3-3 0-0 6, Locke 1-4 0-0 3, Krause 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-54 19-26 82.

Halftime_Florida 40-32. 3-Point Goals_La Salle 8-24 (Beatty 3-5, Deas 2-5, Powell 2-7, Carter 1-4, Brookins 0-1, Mosely 0-2), Florida 3-13 (Hudson 2-5, Locke 1-3, Fava 0-1, K.Johnson 0-1, Allen 0-3). Fouled Out_Croswell. Rebounds_La Salle 26 (Kimbrough 8), Florida 24 (Hayes 6). Assists_La Salle 10 (Carter 3), Florida 14 (Nembhard 7). Total Fouls_La Salle 22, Florida 15.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I was at the game last night and I have been a critic of Hayes. I have to say he played well last night. He even showed some good post moves and touch around the basket. He always gives good effort so that was never an issue. Only problem was he did get two fouls in the first half and had to sit for awhile. He could have had an even better game if not for that. I though the refs made a couple of bad calls on him. They were calling a lot of touch fouls early. I was also impressed with Stokes and both Johnsons. Once Stokes gets his conditioning up to a point where he can play significant minutes, he could be a real force. Chase Johnson played well in the limited minutes he got. Keyontae Johnson really is athletic. He is going to be a good one. He has hops. Nembhard played well and under control especially considering he has a hip flexor injury. He has incredible poise for a freshman point guard. He needs to be able to finish a little better at the basket though, he missed a couple of easy layups. Allen and Hudson were ok but inconsistent shooting the ball. Same as last year. Where is Keith Stone? He has not shown up yet. I expected him to step up this year. Game was not as close as the score indicates. Coach White put the walk ons in with 3 and 1/2 minutes left and the other team smothered them with their press and got some easy baskets late, but hey those guys practice hard everyday and deserve some minutes when he can give them. All in all I though they played well against a mid major team. We will get a better indication how good they are next week in the Bahamas. Hopefully better than played against Florida State.