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.
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.