No. 15 Florida escapes with win over Towson

Florida guard Noah Locke shoots past Towson forward Dennis Tunstall during the first half Thursday in the O'Connell Center. [Matt Stamey/Associated Press]

Coming off Sunday’s 65-51 loss to a physical Florida State team, the Florida men’s basketball team found itself trying to deal with a Towson team that fit a similar profile.

Fortunately for the young 15th-ranked Gators, they were able to apply the previously learned lesson delivered by the Seminoles against the Tigers.

Kerry Blackshear’s go-ahead inside layup with 1:05 left in the second half proved the difference for Florida in a 66-60 win over Towson on Thursday night at Exactech Arena.

“I thought we played with some toughness,” Gators coach Mike White said. “Towson is really good … they execute well.

“They played well enough to come in here and steal one. (We) didn’t fold down the stretch. We made some wing plays down the stretch, especially defensively and did just enough.”

Freshman swingman Scottie Lewis gave the Gators (2-1) a huge boost offensively in scoring 13 of his game-high 15 points in the second half.

Lewis pulled double duty in the final 20 minutes in also helping hold Tigers guard Brian Fobbs to just two points after Fobbs led all scorers with 10 in the first half.

“We have great scorers,” Lewis said. “Like coach White said, our ceiling for our offense is tremendous. Shots are going to fall as the seasons go on. I think we’re one of the better offensive teams in college basketball right now. 

“Once we’re hitting shots … our offense is gonna flow.”

Blackshear notched his third double-double in as many games in a Gators uniform with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The Gators struggled to pull away for most of the night and were locked in a 60-60 tie with 2:15 remaining after the 17-point underdog Tigers’ Juwan Gray canned a 3.

But Blackshear’s bucket off an Andrew Nembhard entry pass gave UF a two-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Nembhard, who finished with 11 points and nine assists, rebounded a Towson (2-2) miss and hit two free throws to put UF up 64-60 and Lewis made two free throws to settle the outcome. 

After shooting 2-for-12 in the first half from beyond the arc, the Gators fared better in the second half by hitting 5-of-10 from 3. Still, Florida will be looking to shoot better than the 31.8 percent it nailed for the game.

The Gators were outrebounded, outshot and at times even out-hustled during the first half, but salvaged a 30-30 halftime score after a putback dunk by freshman forward Omar Payne off a Blackshear miss and a nifty drive to the basket by Nembhard after splitting a defensive switch accounted for the last four points of the half.

UF led early, nudging ahead 13-10 but Towson went on a 9-0 spurt that forced White to call a timeout and get the young Gators settled.

“We just gotta lock in more and focus on what we’re trying to do,” Nembhard said. “It’s mostly defense at that point and we’ve just got to lock into our personnel.”

Keyontae Johnson and Blackshear each had eight points in the first half while Blackshear had seven of the Gators’ 15 team rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

The Gators don’t have much time to recover, as they play at UConn at 3 p.m. Sunday.

No. 15 FLORIDA 66, TOWSON 60
TOWSON (2-1)

Thompson 2-2 0-0 4, Tunstall 2-3 0-0 5, Betrand 5-9 2-2 14, Fobbs 4-11 4-5 12, Dottin 4-6 0-0 10, Gray 3-6 0-0 7, Sanders 1-4 5-7 7, Gibson 0-7 1-2 1. Totals 21-48 12-16 60.


Blackshear 4-14 5-6 13, Johnson 3-8 0-0 8, Nembhard 3-7 4-4 11, Lewis 5-8 3-5 15, Mann 2-7 1-4 6, Payne 4-4 0-1 8, Jitoboh 1-1 0-0 2, Glover 0-1 0-0 0, Locke 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 23-55 13-20 66.

Halftime_30-30. 3-Point Goals_Towson 6-19 (Dottin 2-3, Betrand 2-4, Gray 1-2, Tunstall 1-2, Gibson 0-2, Fobbs 0-6), Florida 7-22 (Johnson 2-4, Lewis 2-4, Nembhard 1-2, Locke 1-2, Mann 1-5, Glover 0-1, Blackshear 0-4). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Towson 29 (Sanders 6), Florida 27 (Blackshear 13). Assists_Towson 10 (Dottin 4), Florida 13 (Nembhard 9). Total Fouls_Towson 20, Florida 13.




  1. Lewis looked good, but his comment about the Gators being one of the better offensive teams in the country is way off. They looked better, but 66 against Towson doesn’t equate to being a good offensive team. He’s right about the shooting, but then again, every team is good when they hit shots.

    The extended 3-point line has hit the Gators hard. Maybe it’s just a slump, but unless they snap out of it soon they’ll have to be more selective about the 3’s they launch.

    Blackshear has shot poorly from downtown so far, and that will affect his versatility if it continues. He looked much better in the post tonight, and showed some of his passing skills. He’s cleaning the glass, too.

    I like Payne a lot, and he’ll be a force if he continues to progress.

  2. This team doesn’t shoot the ball well. The ball movement was much better this game as was the offensive flow but we struggled to make shots especially in the first half. Lewis did play his best game of the season which was good to see. I still think Payne needs a lot of PT. Would like to see him and Blackshear together more.

  3. Blackshear can’t finish around the basket, how could they pick him to be best in sec. Also all the hype about the O was made in early preseason when they were shooting against their own defense. Right now, not so good either way.

  4. It is going to take some time for the team to transition from a guard oriented offense to a front court dominated offense. It has been so long since we could play a lot big forward/centers that can both defend and finish around the rim. Once we start feeding the ball inside, we should see better shot selection from the outside. We will see better shooting as the season goes along. As I said before, I would like to see Payne and Blackshear playing together.