Final: UF routs Florida Gulf Coast

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Florida senior guard KeVaughn Allen shoots under pressure from Florida Gulf Coast forward Troy Baxter Jr. in the first half Saturday. It was part of the Orange Bowl Classic tournament in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

SUNRISE — Jalen Hudson’s faith in his shot was finally rewarded, and his regained touch paid off Saturday for the Florida Gators.

The senior guard snapped a season-long slump by sinking three consecutive 3-pointers during a 2½-minute span midway through the first half, and the Gators went on to beat Florida Gulf Coast 77-56 Saturday in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Hudson, the Gators’ leading scorer last season, came into the game shooting 29 percent, including 6 for 34 from 3-point range. He finished 4 for 9 beyond the arc and scored 14 points.

“I tried to shoot it with confidence,” Hudson said. “If I was shooting it without confidence, I knew it wasn’t going to go in.”

Noah Locke had 15 points in 21 minutes for the Gators (7-4), who won for the fourth time in their past five games. Kevarrius Hayes had 12 points without a miss, blocked three shots and had a team-high seven rebounds.

No. 11 Florida State beat Saint Louis 81-59 in the first game of the one-day event.

Hudson’s shooting spurt gave Florida a 23-8 lead midway through the first half.

“I’m happy for the team, but I’m very happy for him,” coach Mike White said. “It has been a little difficult for him. He’s a really talented offensive player. We knew at some point he was going to break out.”

The Gators forced 22 turnovers and held Florida Gulf Coast to 39 percent shooting, including 2 for 14 from 3-point range. But Hudson said the Gators are capable of more defensively.

“We had a couple of lapses,” he said, before turning to White. “What would you say — a B? C-plus? We’ve got room to improve.”

White nodded, but praised the defensive effort to start the second half, when his team went on a 12-1 run for a 49-27 advantage.

“We came out salivating early in the second half,” White said.

The Gators, who improved to 5-0 against Florida Gulf Coast, haven’t allowed 70 points since a season-opening loss at Florida State.

FGCU (5-9) had a three-game winning streak snapped. Reserve Troy Baxter Jr. had 13 points and seven rebounds to lead the Eagles.

TENATIVE?

The Eagles’ point total matched their season low, and their turnover total was a season high. The Gators had a 34-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

Coach Michael Fry blamed his team’s offensive execution.

“There were plays where we had guys open and took an extra dribble,” he said. “I thought we were a little tentative.”

KNOCKDOWN

White collapsed to the court during play with five minutes left in the first half but quickly rose.

“I assume I’m really dehydrated,” he said. “I knocked down some water pretty quickly, a lot of it, and felt better after a few minutes. It’s nothing.”

BIG PICTURE

The Gators’ record might be misleading because their nonconference schedule has been rated the toughest among Southeastern Conference teams.

Notes: The Gators are now 17-3 in the Orange Bowl Classic, dating to their first appearance here in 1997. Florida will take a three-day Christmas break and report back Wednesday night to begin preparation for a rematch against Butler (9-3), which defeated the Gators, 61-54, on Nov. 23 in the fifth-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.

FLORIDA 77, FLORIDA GULF COAST 56
FLORIDA GULF COAST (5-9)

R.Scott 2-4 0-0 4, Ernst 2-2 0-0 4, Casimir 2-5 6-6 10, Z.Scott 2-9 4-6 9, Carlyle 2-6 0-1 4, Thomas 2-3 0-1 4, Baxter 4-9 5-7 13, Cheatham 0-1 0-0 0, Catto 1-1 2-4 4, Mercurius 0-2 0-0 0, Day 1-3 1-2 4. Totals 18-45 18-27 56.

FLORIDA (7-4)

Stone 2-7 3-3 8, Hayes 5-5 2-2 12, Locke 5-9 0-0 15, Nembhard 0-2 0-0 0, Allen 2-6 0-0 5, Bassett 0-1 0-0 0, Stokes 1-5 0-1 2, K.Johnson 3-4 2-4 8, Hudson 5-11 0-0 14, Krause 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 4-11 3-4 11, Okauru 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 28-63 10-14 77.

Halftime_Florida 37-26. 3-Point Goals_Florida Gulf Coast 2-14 (Day 1-3, Z.Scott 1-4, R.Scott 0-1, Casimir 0-2, Mercurius 0-2, Baxter 0-2), Florida 11-31 (Locke 5-9, Hudson 4-9, Stone 1-2, Allen 1-5, Stokes 0-1, Nembhard 0-1, Okauru 0-1, Ballard 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Florida Gulf Coast 28 (Thomas, Baxter 7), Florida 32 (Hayes 7). Assists_Florida Gulf Coast 10 (Catto 4), Florida 17 (Nembhard 4). Total Fouls_Florida Gulf Coast 17, Florida 24. Technicals_Florida coach Mike White.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Good team win today! Gators appeared to have ”more motion” in their offensive game, less stagnation.
    And the Gator ‘D’ was really good, as usual for Coach White’s teams. And B.T.W., Coach White deserves a game ball for NOT getting 2 techs and getting tossed out of the game. As those refs were awful, especially in the 1st half of the game. Safe travels, Gators, and chomp-on!

    • Agree totally with you i70x7. If Bobby Knight would have been the Gator coach tonight he would have thrown several chairs at that crew. Not sure what White got that one tech for at the start of the 2nd half but I think it was by design as he decided he had seen enough of their crap and decided to let them know right from the start of the 2nd half. Interestingly, the next 10 minutes after his “T’ was maybe the best 10 minutes of ball the team has played so far this season .

  2. A good win! Coach White is finally starting to figure our team out and we had good flow on offense. We need big guys – an inside presence and he started playing Johnson down low since he’s big and strong and can rebound, defend, and score plus towards the end of the game he played Stokes and Bassett (two bigs) at the same time when Stokes made that nice move to score in the paint. With another big there (Bassett) the defense can’t collapse on Stokes. However, he is extremely slow in making adjustments as it’s our 11th game of the season which is a concern as most if not all elite coaches would have gone to a bigger lineup for parts of the game to be honest as soon as the season started because this has been so obvious to many of us who are not even coaches. We now have 4 bigs – Hayes, Bassett, Stokes, and now Johnson. Maybe Gak will help at some point.

  3. GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY

    GOOD: Gators are 16th nationally in defense, giving up just 61.6 ppg

    BAD: Gators average just 70,1 ppg themselves, good for 313 out of 351 Div. I schools (check that, I could be wrong)

    UGLY: Gators average just 63 percent from the free throw stripe, just 303 of the 351 Div.I schools, although the 11-15 against FGCU helped. Some players seem to have been practicing.
    THE SKINNY: Without an offensive presence at the post or the 4 spot, it’s jump-shot city for the Gators. Hope the real Jalen Hudson has returned. Locke should get more minutes with his 3point average. And, please, :KEEP DOING THE PICK AND ROLL IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE A JUMP-SHOT TEAM. It appears Gators will live and die from the 3-point line this year.

  4. AND: If the 63 % from the charity stripe does not keep improving, Gators are going to lose a few close games because of poor free-throw shooting. Jeez–even high school teams shoot 70 percent. 63 percent is a disgrace when it’s a free shot from 15 feet.

  5. Free throws in game situations are different than practice. So, when I was coaching, I would bring in the boom boxes and simulate LOUD, ANTAGONISTIC crowd noise and have students site behind the goal, waving hands, shouting and holding up signs while the players were practicing. The only thing I know is my teams used to average 70 to 73 percent for the year from the line and they were used to hostile crowds screaming at them. Hope that’s what White is doing to create real, game-like situations. Time for me to SHUT UP.