Florida knocks off Incarnate Word

Florida guard Mike Okauru goes for a basket during the second half Friday against Incarnate Word at the O'Connell Center. Gators won 75-60. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Florida coach Mike White wasn’t going to use the approaching holiday break as an excuse for another up-and-down offensive performance in UF’s 75-60 win over Incarnate Word before 8,021 at the O’Connell Center.

“We’ve shot it like this for a while,” White said Friday. “We’ve defended like this all year. It’s who we are.”

The Gators (8-4) won their second straight game despite another off night from the perimeter, shooting 39.1 percent from the field and 25 percent (9-36) from 3-point range. Florida also finished with 13 assists to 13 turnovers and hasn’t posted a positive assist to turnover ratio(11-9) since Nov. 26 against Duke.

Still, there were positives. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza led three UF scorers in double figures with 16 points, four assists and four steals. Junior guard Jalen Hudson added 13 points and a career-high six assists, while senior guard Egor Koulechov had 12 points despite going 1 of 8 from 3-point range.

Florida recorded a season-high 14 steals and scored 33 points off 23 Incarnate Word turnovers to pull away in the second half. In addition to Chiozza’s four steals, freshman guard Michael Okauru and junior guard KeVaughn Allen had three steals apiece.

“Our activity defensively, with getting tips and deflections, creating those turnovers, that was the difference in the game,” White said.

Though Florida tried to do a better job moving the ball against the Incarnate Word’s zone defense, White thought the Gators were at times too unselfish. Florida’s 13 assists were the most since recording 22 assists against Gonzaga on Nov. 24.

“We passed up decent looks because we weren’t making shots,” White said. “And a lot of times we passed up decent looks to get worse looks or to turn the ball over. Never found great offensive rhythm. Certainly didn’t expect 37 minutes of zone from a team that’s barely played zone all year. But credit them for keeping us off balance.”

Florida led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but couldn’t pull away early. The Gators led just 37-34 at halftime after Shawn Johnson hit a 3-pointer for Incarnate Word at the first-half buzzer. Hudson described White as “quiet and disappointed” in the locker room at halftime rather than animated and yelling.

“You have a bunch of buttons, you have a bunch of bullets,” White said. “I’ve shot a lot of bullets with these guys and it’s not even Christmas. And when your team has that look, in terms of their confidence level offensively, I didn’t think yelling at them was the right button to push.”

Florida’s malaise extended into the second half, as the Gators led just 51-46 after a layup by UIW guard Cody Graham with 12:50 remaining. But the Gators were able to put the game away with a 17-2 run fueled by defense. Chiozza scored eight points during the run on a shot in the lane at the end of the shot clock, a 3-pointer and a 3-point-play in transition.

“The last fourth of the game, we really just focused on making sure we didn’t get them any open shots, and that’s what got us off on a good run,” Chiozza said.

Forward Charles Brown III led Incarnate Word (5-5) with 13 points. In its final tuneup before the SEC opener Dec. 30 at home against Vanderbilt (4 p.m. ESPN2), Florida posted its first double-digit margin of victory since knocking off Stanford 108-87 on Nov. 23 in the PK80 Tournament.

White is hoping a few days away from practice over Christmas break will help players solve their shooting woes and regain some confidence.

“We’re going to really try to get past these two games at home and start over once conference play gets here,” Chiozza said. “Try to take things we’ve learned from the past games and put them into our conference games.”



Socks 4-6 3-5 11, Brown 5-10 1-2 13, Hervey 0-5 4-4 4, S.Johnson 3-5 1-1 8, Hart 2-3 2-2 7, Peevy 1-1 0-0 2, Thornton 0-0 0-0 0, Kulikov 2-7 0-0 4, Wyatt 1-2 0-0 2, Ene 0-1 0-0 0, Kite 0-1 0-0 0, Graham 1-2 0-0 2, Burmeister 3-3 0-0 7. Totals 22-46 11-14 60.


Hayes 4-5 0-1 8, Hudson 5-13 0-0 13, Koulechov 5-14 1-1 12, Chiozza 4-5 7-7 16, Allen 1-9 4-4 7, Stone 1-3 4-5 6, Bassett 0-0 0-0 0, Gak 1-1 0-0 2, Krause 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 1-6 0-0 3, Okauru 3-8 0-0 8, Fava 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-64 16-18 75.

Halftime_Florida 37-34. 3-Point Goals_Incarnate Word 5-12 (Brown 2-2, Burmeister 1-1, Hart 1-1, S.Johnson 1-3, Kite 0-1, Graham 0-1, Hervey 0-3), Florida 9-36 (Hudson 3-10, Okauru 2-6, Chiozza 1-2, Ballard 1-3, Allen 1-6, Koulechov 1-8, Stone 0-1). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Incarnate Word 25 (S.Johnson 7), Florida 32 (Hayes 8). Assists_Incarnate Word 5 (Kulikov, Graham, S.Johnson, Socks, Brown 1), Florida 13 (Hudson 6). Total Fouls_Incarnate Word 16, Florida 14. A_8,021 (10,133).


  1. It was a win but that was the worst shooting performance I have seen from a team in many a year. They continue to stand around the perimeter on offense and then crank up nothing but 3 ball blanks (25%) Yes, they hustle and force turnovers, but the better teams will just let them fire away from the arc while they themselves just keep driving to the hoop for easy scores. That top 10 ranking is a distant memory in the rear view mirror for this gang.

  2. WTF happened? How did we go from lights out balling to inconsistent/poor shooting? Did someone siphon out their mojo? Is it in a tube somewhere that we need Austin Powers to go out and recapture? How is THIS the team and that WASN’T the team. We played down to the wire with DUKE! Now, we’d be lucky to reach half their score in a game. So what was it? Mindset? Belief?

    • Its coach White choking! When a TEAM does this its all about coaching. White cant figure it out, thus he’s choking. Great coaches dont do this. Hopefully he will figure this out and raise his game skill as a coach. I suggest he go get some advice from Billy!

    • It’s that we really have no inside game to balance out the offense which limits ball movement and getting our shooters better in rhythm shots so they take better shots and not force up shots which is why our shooting % is down. Teams have figured out how to guard us. Part of it is coaching as Coach White refuses to abandon this 4 guard offense and play two big men down low so we can get better balance on offense or at least go to it more but that says he has little confidence in our big men right now but we need to play them. Getting Egbunu and Stokes back will help but we need more big men and you can’t expect them to be saviors as it takes time to get them game and team adjusted. Prognosis is not good right now!

  3. Why panic. This team has lost some offensive effectiveness but when Egbunu returns to give this team a defensive presense around the basket and some rebounds and then you will see a top 10 performance out of this team

    • They’re missing 4 of their 5 big men, thus they have no inside game & have to rely on their shooters. When the shots don’t fall, the shooters lose their confidence. Agree that when Egbunu, Stokes, et al return, hopefully, they will be s more complete unit.

  4. Just seems like Duke changed to a tough zone in the last 10 minutes of the game and we have not shot the ball well since that point in the season. Then, FSU continued a tough zone and laid the defensive blueprint to defend us the rest of the season until we can get a respectable offensive post game. AND YET (sorry), they are getting some good 3 looks and shots are just flat. They also suddenly cant finish at the rim with drives to the basket. Hope they come back from Christmas with more confidence.

  5. A story printed in your paper needs to be corrected. It shows the name of the player on UIW as Christian Peevy and you are in error. This player that you have a picture of is #14 not 4.

    Our family would like the correction made please. We traveled from 3 states to Gainesville to support both teams last night and were disappointed when we awoke to this photo of two players and the name of Christian Peevy was listed. We would have loved to have had the momento from last’s night game but he work black tights and sneakers. Clearly this is not him. Thank you

  6. I don’t know what happened, first the insistence on defense. then out of the blue we find that Hayes was suspended, (Never a reason was given). Ever since then this team has been in a funk. It could also be that after the loss to Duke, some of our deficiencies where exposed. Teams are using the same style of defense that Duke used to make their comeback. Whatever it is, discipline or whatever, White better find the answer, because I don’t think Ebugnu the big guy, is going to make that much difference. You cant continue to play the way we have been playing if we are to. compete in the SEC.

  7. Problem is everyone is having to play up a number because of all our injuries and suspensions. We have 3s and 4s playing and defending other teams’ 5. 3s against 4, even guards having to defend and rebound against forwards. They have not spent time in their careers playing those positions.

    You just can’t play with NO fromtcourt. Duke figured it out just in time, and I promise you every team since then has seen the tape.

    Hope coach can hold em together until we get our big guys back! Go Gators!

  8. There is no attempt at pick n rolls, Hayes just runs around the floor on offense, and chases his man all around the court on defense; this teams doesn’t even practice looking for inside scores, it’s all about perimeter passing until someone finds an open shot, live by the 3, die by the 3, they shot their wad the first 6 games of the season, probably a 12-14 loss season