JACKSONVILLE — Florida showed plenty of offensive firepower, and improved defense in the second half, in its charity exhibition game Thursday night at Jacksonville.
Despite losing starting point guard Chris Chiozza to a sprained left shoulder in the first half, the Gators were able to pull away for an 88-47 win over the Dolphins before 1,542 at Swisher Gym.
Chiozza suffered the injury in the first half banging shoulders with a Jacksonville player on a screen play. The six-foot point guard from Memphis tried to re-enter the game but left due to pain issues in the shoulder. Chiozza, who finished with two steals and two assists in two minutes on the floor, will have the shoulder re-examined on Friday. Florida will play its final exhibition game Sunday against Tampa at Exactech Arena (2 p.m. tip).
[11-3-17 Update, 2:26 p.m.] Chris Chiozza was diagnosed with a left shoulder sprain Friday. He will be out seven to 10 days. He could be back in time for the opener vs. Gardner-Webb on Nov. 13.
“Really concerned because he’s about as valuable to us as it gets, probably as any player is to their team in college basketball,” Florida coach Mike White said. “(Trainer) Duke (Werner) thinks it’s just a sprain to the shoulder. It’s more of a pain deal. That’s not the final word, though, he’ll be checked out tomorrow. I know he’s a really, really tough guy and if he’s able to play, he’ll play.”
Chiozza’s injury was the only damper on a dominant offensive UF performance. Junior guard Jalen Hudson led four UF scorers in double figures with 21 points. Junior guard KeVaughn Allen and graduate transfer forward Egor Koulechov added 17 points, while freshman swingman Deaundrae Ballard had 11 points off the bench. Florida went 12 of 29 from 3-point range, with five different players making at least one 3-pointer, while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor. The Gators also outscored Jacksonville 19-2 in fast-break points.
Florida led 37-26 at halftime and put the game away with an 18-0 run to start the second half. The Gators held Jacksonville to 3-of-19 shooting in the second half and 23.4 percent shooting for the game.
“We had a better mindset in the second half,” Koulechov said. “Coach kind of jumped us at halftime. We had better body language in the second half, guys were helping each other on defense. I think it led us to a way better defensive half than the first one.”
Allen and freshman Michael Okauru ran the point for the remainder of the game with Chiozza out. Allen had six assists and Florida finished with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (16-12) despite playing without its floor general for most of the game.
“It was a chore without him, of course,” White said. “I thought like our guys said KeVaughn and Mike did some good things. Chris makes us go offensively and defensively, he’s our best defender and probably the best passer in the country. We got to evaluate some things without him, of course, but I’d have rather not have that happen.”
The Gators already came into the game banged up, with freshman forward Chase Johnson out due to concussion protocol. In addition, redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone suffered a mild ankle sprain in Wednesday’s practice and did not start. Stone had eight points, five rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes off the bench.