Looking for a spark offensively, Florida moved junior guard Jalen Hudson into the starting lineup Saturday against Alabama.
But the move had an adverse effect on UF’s bench, which was outscored 29-1 in its 68-50 loss at the O’Connell Center.
The only bench point for the Gators came on a free throw by freshman guard Mike Okauru with 2:53 remaining. By then, the Gators trailed 64-50.
“We tried to get those freshmen in early and a couple of more minutes,” Florida coach Mike White said. “They’ve been pretty good off late in practice. Deaundrae Ballard probably had his best week of practice, he led us in scoring this week, in the past couple of days. Just couldn’t get going. You’ve got to get more production there.”
The 6-foot-5 Ballard had 0 points and went 0 for 2 from the field in seven minutes. Ballard has scored just five points in his last seven games.
Hudson, UF’s leading scorer coming into the game at 16.2 ppg, made his first start since Jan. 10 against Mississippi State. The Virginia Tech transfer had his second straight off-shooting game, finishing with six points on 3-of-10 shooting. Worse, Hudson had some shaky decision making and ballhandling, finishing with five of UF’s 12 turnovers.
Alabama, meanwhile, got significant bench production from sophomore forward Braxton Key, who scored 13 points, and freshman point guard Avery Johnson Jr., who added 10 points. Johnson Jr. hit a big 3-pointer during Alabama’s 11-0 second-half run that put the game away.
Chiozza passes Wilbekin
With four steals against Alabama, Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza moved past Scottie Wilbekin into sole possession for seventh on UF’s all-time steals list with 171 career steals.
Chiozza is now five steals shy of passing Corey Brewer for sixth on UF’s steals list (176).
Redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone scored 12 points, all in the first half, posting his first double-figure scoring game since scoring 14 points at Kentucky on Jan. 20. … UF finished the game shooting 20.8 percent from 3-point range (5-24) its worst 3-point shooting game since shooting 20 percent (6-30) against Kentucky. … With 16 points, Florida junior guard KeVaughn Allen passed Taurean Green for 38th on UF’s all-time scoring list. Allen now has 1,187 career points.