Florida bounces back, routs Texas A&M

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Florida guard Andrew Nembhard. [AP Photo/Matt Stamey/File]

COLLEGE STATION, Texas  — Needing a win in the worst way, the Florida Gators relied on their sophomores to make it happen Wednesday night against Texas A&M.

Andrew Nembhard scored a game-high 24 points, Noah Locke connected for a season-high 21 points thanks to five 3-pointers and Keyontae Johnson scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had a season-high six assists to charge the Gators to a 78-61 win.

The win keeps the Gators (15-9) in the hunt for the SEC lead. Auburn, Kentucky and LSU are tied at the top with 9-2 records, followed by Florida and South Carolina at 7-4.

“We really moved the ball well,” UF coach Mike White said. “It was the best we’ve moved the ball all year. That’s as well as we’ve played offensively all year.”

Locke connected on 4 of 6 3-point shots for 14 points in leading the Gators to a 37-34 lead at the half. Good ball movement freed the Gators to make eight 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes on 17 attempts.

Florida, which lost by 17 points at Ole Miss last Saturday, then dominated in the second half, outscoring Texas A&M 41-27. The Gators kept building their advantage in the final 20 minutes, shooting 52 percent and never letting the Aggies sniff a comeback attempt.

“For us to come in here and score 78, obviously we did a lot well offensively,” White said. “With this team we’ve struggled at times against really good defenses, especially on the road. So that’s about as well as we’ve played.”

Texas A&M (11-12, 5-6) cut its deficit to two points on a 3-pointer by Emanuel Miller early in the second half before the Gators used a 14-4 run to make it 53-41 with about 11 minutes to go. Johnson scored six points during that span.

Texas A&M’s only points in that stretch came on free throws as the Aggies went almost eight minutes without making a field goal.

It was Miller who finally made A&M’s next basket, but it didn’t get the Aggies going and the Gators went on a 10-2 run after that to make it 63-45 with 7 1/2 minutes to go. Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann made 3-pointers to lead Florida in that run.

The Gators nailed a season-high 12 3-pointers on 27 attempts (44.4 percent) and ruled the backboards, grabbing a 35-20 rebounding edge.

“Their team is so good,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “They put stress on you in every possible way.”

Williams was disappointed that Florida got 14 offensive rebounds on 25 missed shots.

“That’s hard for any team to overcome,” he said.

Up next, the Gators return to the O’Connell Center for an 8 p.m. Saturday contest against Vanderbilt. UF will christen the floor at Exactech Arena as “Billy Donovan Court”, with the former Florida coach in attendance. UF defeated Vanderbilt (9-15, 1-10) in Nashville, 61-55, earlier this month. The SEC Network will air the game.

Notes: Kerry Blackshear Jr. had eight points and three rebounds. Blackshear played for Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams at Virginia Tech last season before joining the Gators as a graduate transfer.

White said he asked Blackshear earlier in the week if he’d have any added emotion in facing his former coach and he told him he wasn’t even thinking about that.

“He said: ‘we need a ‘W’ I’m more concerned about how we’re playing and how I can help this team win,'” White said. “He’s a really really good kid … and I don’t know where we’d be without him.”

UF will need to limit its mistakes and turnovers as it continues SEC play. It had 14 turnovers Wednesday night. … White earned his 104th win as UF’s head coach, matching Lon Kruger for #4 in Florida history in wins. … Florida picked up its third SEC road win of the season, tied for second-most in the league (UK, 4).


FLORIDA (15-9)

Blackshear 1-2 6-6 8, Johnson 4-8 2-2 10, Lewis 3-4 0-0 9, Locke 8-17 0-0 21, Nembhard 9-11 3-4 24, Mann 1-5 0-0 3, Payne 0-2 0-0 0, Jitoboh 1-3 1-2 3, Glover 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-52 12-14 78.

TEXAS A&M (11-12)

Miller 5-6 8-9 19, Nebo 5-9 2-5 12, Gordon 3-5 0-0 8, Mitchell 1-5 1-2 3, Flagg 4-10 0-0 11, Jackson 2-9 2-3 6, Gultekin 0-1 0-0 0, Chandler 0-2 2-2 2, Aku 0-0 0-2 0, French 0-0 0-0 0, Walker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-47 15-23 61.

Halftime_Florida 37-34. 3-Point Goals_Florida 12-27 (Locke 5-10, Lewis 3-4, Nembhard 3-5, Mann 1-5, Blackshear 0-1, Johnson 0-2), Texas A&M 6-23 (Flagg 3-8, Gordon 2-3, Miller 1-2, Chandler 0-1, Gultekin 0-1, Jackson 0-4, Mitchell 0-4). Fouled Out_Aku. Rebounds_Florida 32 (Johnson 10), Texas A&M 16 (Nebo, Jackson 4). Assists_Florida 15 (Johnson 6), Texas A&M 7 (Miller, Nebo 2). Total Fouls_Florida 18, Texas A&M 17.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Obviously Nembhard is not going to hit 9 for 11 on a regular basis, but if he gets a pick or screen from Blackshear and drives for the basket early in the clock, they have to double him and Johnson and Locke will be open in the corners and he can dish to them for open shots. And, if Blackshear follows him and moves to the opposite side of the rim, then Nembhard can dish it to him also. But this only works if Nembhard shoots often. Taking 9 to 12 shots per game hasn’t worked and it won’t (unless of course he shoots 9 for 11 or 9 for 12).

  2. I loved seeing them pass the ball running the defense side to side until someone was open and had a good shot. Good bounce back win. Hitting a good percentage of our open shots was key. I hope we stay hot. We can’t afford any of those nights where everyone is cold. Go Gators, keep it up and let’s make the tourney. Loved this game.