Notebook: Allen sparks Gators with strong floor game

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Kentucky forward Kevin Knox slams into Florida guard KeVaughn Allen during Saturday's game in the O'Connell Center. [Alan Youngblood/Staff photographer]

On an afternoon when senior point guard Chris Chiozza set Florida’s all-time assist record, another Florida guard displayed pinpoint passing ability Saturday against No. 23 Kentucky.

Florida junior guard KeVaughn Allen had a career-high seven assists, part of a strong all-around floor game for the North Little Rock, Ark., native. The 6-foot-2 Allen also finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.

Allen helped Florida get going early with a steal that led to a breakaway dunk by freshman guard Mike Okauru, which put UF up 19-14. Another steal by Allen led to a Keith Stone layup which extended UF’s lead to 30-19.

Allen then had back-to-back assists later in the first half, finding center Gorjok Gak and center Kevarrius Hayes on inside baskets to put Florida up 45-28.

“I did a good job just scanning the floor, keeping my head up and just trying to find open guys,” Allen said.

Said Chiozza: “He did a good job the first half, really the whole game, getting into the lane, finding people. We did a good job of cutting for him. It’s just something we’ve been working on every day, shot-fake, drive to the paint, find open guys. We had good movement. KeVaughn was making the right plays.”

Florida coach Mike White has been prodding Allen all season to be more aggressive.

“I told him after the game he didn’t need to get 25, but he was just as aggressive as he’s been,” White said. “He was attacking some of those switches, he was attacking in transition. He was getting downhill, he was drawing help and it led to him getting other guys shots. That’s also being aggressive.”

Overall, Florida finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 15 to 10 and posted 32 assists in its final two home games.

Chiozza, who entered the game tied with Erving Walker, said he wasn’t focused on getting the assist record early in the game. The record-breaking assist didn’t come until Chiozza fed Stone on a 3-pointer with 6:06 left in first half. Chiozza finished the game with four assists, with a highlight assist coming when he fed Jalen Hudson on an alley-oop dunk in transition.

“We weren’t focused on that,” Chiozza said. “After the game I’ll go watch the video, when I get home. At that point, I knew I needed just one anyway. I knew something was going to come, off a screen. We just needed the win.”

Third straight 20-win season

White posted his third 20-win season in three seasons with the Gators. White downplayed the accomplishment.

“It’s the University of Florida,” said White, who turned 41 on Friday. “It’s a great job. We’ve had great players.”

Overall, Florida posted its 19th 20-win season in the last 20 years. White is 68-35 in three seasons at Florida and 34-20 in SEC regular-season games.

Etc.

Florida improved to 6-2 against ranked teams this season. … The Gators finished the year 12-5 at home, with their most home losses since the 2014-15 season. … Sophomore center Gorjok Gak finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench, his highest-scoring output since scoring 6 points against Loyala-Chicago on Dec. 6. … Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox, a Tampa native, finished with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting in a homecoming game of sorts. The 6-foot-9 Knox was a former standout at Tampa Catholic.

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. I think the regular season is officially a success, at least in my book. :-)….These kids got nothing to lose from here on out. I don’t think the expectations should be high but everyone knows that they’re capable of beating any team on any given day. The question is whether they can be consistent in tournament play as they’re capable of. For me, as long as they get another 3 or so wins combined in the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament, I will be content the rest of the way.. And I don’t care what the combination is.. 0 in the SEC tournament and 3 in the NCAA tournament or 3 in the SEC tournament and O in the NCAA. My preference would be to see them win at least one game in each tournament.. It’s not that I’m choosing to lower expectations.. it’s more so that I feel they will be vulnerable early when they’re the higher seed, and susceptible to an upset.. but they’ve also played incredible as underdogs or against powerhouses like Kentucky and not as good when they were highly ranked and/or favorites…so the first 2 games in each tournament is basically their final 4, then if they get past those 2 games, then there could be fireworks in the making… that is, IF they can manage to hold on to big leads. 😉 So, one of game at a time, Florida, and go into the tournaments with a chip on yall shoulders… play each game like as it’s the last game of the season whether it’s a 1st round or a final round. Go Gators!!!

  2. If they play the way did Saturday they can beat almost anybody in the country. I think they will still have matchup problems with teams like Duke, Purdue, Michigan State, etc because they just don’t have the low post guys to compete. But I thought they played tough and hard against Kentucky the whole game. They should be proud of the way they played. We are sure going to miss Chiozza next year though. For a small guard he can really impact the game. I can’t see him going to the NBA but I think he can find a place overseas to make some money. Either way that kid plays with guts all the time. Again gotta give a shout out to Egor man, he has really battled for rebounds against much bigger guys lately. He is one tough dude. Sorry Egbunu can’t make it back. He could have made a difference for sure. But best of luck to him in the future and I hope that knee heels up for him. All in all proud of the Gators and Coach White. Its been a good year.