UF beats Florida Southern in exhibition game


Published: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.

Freshman point guard Kasey Hill shrugged his shoulders when asked about his first game in a Florida uniform.

“I think I did OK,” Hill said. “I could do a lot better, obviously.”

The McDonald’s All-American from Eustis showed plenty of promise during UF’s 110-88 exhibition win over Florida Southern at the O’Connell Center on Friday night. Pressed into extended duty at point guard with Scottie Wilbekin suspended, Hill finished with 17 points, three assists and three rebounds in 26 minutes.

“(Kasey) showed some really great glimpses in transition and open floor passes,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “Obviously, he’s a freshman, he’s going to have some growing pains, some ups and downs.”

Hill also had three turnovers and was lost at times defensively. All six of his baskets came driving to the hoop and he admitted after the game he would have liked to hit more open shots. Hill finished the game 6 of 13 from the floor.

“He didn’t have a high number of assists, but certainly his explosiveness in the open floor showed out,” Donovan said.

During an impressive stretch late in the first half, Hill scored seven of UF’s last 11 points. On one basket, Hill weaved through three Florida Southern defenders for a layup. On another, Hill faked a Florida Southern defender out of his sneakers with a crossover dribble before finishing with a drive to the hoop.

“We knew that,” Florida senior forward Will Yeguete said, when asked about Hill’s ball-handling savvy. “I’m glad you guys got to see that. He’s really fast and he can finish and make plays. I think he’s going to really help us this year.”

Overall, it was a decent debut for the short-handed Gators. With just seven scholarship players available, seven Florida players scored in double figures, led by 23 points from senior forward Casey Prather. Donovan was pleased with Patric Young, who had 19 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes. After missing his first two free-throw attempts, Young made seven of his last eight to finish 7 of 10 from the line.

“He played with a really good motor night,” Donovan said. “You look at the stat sheet, 19 points, eight rebounds, we need that consistency from him every game.”

Yeguete had 12 points and nine rebounds and said he’s at about “80 percent” coming off offseason knee surgery. Eli Carter and DeVon Walker each had 11 points. Another pleasant surprise was walk-on Jacob Kurtz, who started at forward and had 11 points, nine rebounds and an assist in 25 minutes. Kurtz started ahead of healthy scholarship guard Dillon Graham.

“What you saw out there today I see every day in practice,” Donovan said. “I think he can really help us. He’s a really smart player.’

Donovan wasn’t pleased with some of UF’s breakdowns defensively. The Gators allowed Florida Southern to shoot 13 of 30 from 3-point range and were out of position often defending the 3-point line. Offensively, Florida got to the free-throw line 39 times but shot just five of 24 (20.8 percent) from 3-point range.

“Our ability to get to the line probably offset some of their 3-point shots,” Donovan said.

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