Beyond the arc: 3 takeaways from UF’s 81-60 win over Baylor

Florida guard Jalen Hudson tries to grab a rebound from Baylor forward Terry Maston during Saturday's game at the O'Connell Center. The Gators beat the Bears 81-60 in the SEC/BIG 12 Challenge. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Three observations following Florida’s 81-60 win Saturday over Baylor at the O’Connell Center:

— It’s easy to pile on Florida junior center Kevarrius Hayes for his offensive shortcomings. But Hayes continued to excel at protecting the rim this season, blocking five shots against Baylor. It’s the third time this season the 6-foot-9, Live Oak native has blocked five shots in a game (Nov. 19 against New Hampshire and Jan. 2 against Texas A&M were the others). Hayes moved into second in the SEC in blocked shots (2.3 per game) with his big performance. The Gators are 4-0 when Hayes blocked four or more shots in a game and 7-2 when Hayes blocks three or more shots.

— Sophomore center Gorjok Gak and redshirt freshman forward Dontay Bassett both gave the Gators decent minutes off the bench in the post. The 6-11 Gak had a pretty bounce pass along the baseline for an assist to Keith Stone in the first half and finished with two points and the assist in nine minutes. Bassett was fouled going for a defensive rebound in the second half and had a point and two rebounds in 10 minutes of action.

— Baylor had 11 offensive rebounds, but Florida didn’t let the boards impact its second-shot defense. The Gators were only outscored 8-5 in second-chance points. Florida is going to get outrebounded on most nights due to size mismatches (Baylor outrebounded the Gators 38-30), but the key for Florida is not to allow easy putback baskets off offensive rebounds and remain mentally focused guarding opposing second-chance offensive possessions.


  1. This was a completely different team from last game. The players had energy. They played with intensity. They defended the 3 point line much better, but inside defense and rebounding still needs work. Yes, they shot the ball much better, but even putting that aside, they played much better.

  2. That was Gak’s best pass of his career, to date. Real confidence… if only it could be bottled and sold!
    Kevin, I am a bit confused (albeit on only 1/2 a cup of coffee). You wrote, ”The Gators are 4-0 when Hayes blocked four or more shots in a game and 7-2 when Hayes blocks three or more shots.” That’s a bit confusing. So, shouldn’t the Gators be 7-2 when Hayes blocks ”JUST 3 shots” in a game? The ”or more” for both stats makes it, well…

    • Of the 9 games in which Hayes has blocked three or more shots (remember they’re 7-2, so it’s nine games) , four of those nine games Hayes blocked four shots or more (the 4-0 stat), thus here were only five games in which he blocked just three shots a game. Not a math or stats major here, just a UF graduate.

  3. One simple observation that you did not mention. Baylor was never in this game. That was hardwood domination from start to finish.

    I’m so appreciative of the energy and effort Hayes puts out each game. He is cat-quick for a man of his size. Some of the blocks against Baylor were just remarkable. He gets up the court fast enough on transition to block layups from behind.

    We were ready to play Baylor and had a good game plan to execute. On defense, we’re walking that fine line between helping out in post defense and guarding the perimeter. As long as the tres fall we are fine.

  4. Hayes may not gave great stats but his teammates play better when he’s on the floor. Teammates don’t need to help out as much on defense while opposing defenses pack in just a tad more giving our shooters a split second more time to get off a shot.