BASKETBALL

Florida basketball: 3 takeaways from Florida's 102-62 win over Florida A&M

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports
Florida Gators forward Alex Fudge (3) is denied a slam dunk in the second half. The Florida men's basketball team hosted Florida A&M at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Wednesday, November 30, 2022. The Gators won 102-62 [Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner]

Florida basketball rebounded from its worst loss in 23 years with a dominating performance on Wednesday night, routing Florida A&M 102-62 before an announced 6,515 at the O'Connell Center.

The Gators (5-3) were down two starters, as point guard Kyle Lofton (back spasms) and shooting guard Will Richard (knee) sat out with injuries.

With forward Kowacie Reeves back in the starting lineup and freshman Riley Kugel making his first career start, the Gators raced to a 19-2 lead. Florida led 50-31 at halftime en route to its first 100-point game in regulation since beating Long Beach State 102-63 on Dec. 28, 2019.

"We obviously shot the ball really well," Florida coach Todd Golden said. "Some guys filled it up but I thought we competed well. I thought we executed well."

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday's game.

Another big game for Trey Bonham

Bonham went 7 of 8 from the field and 7 of 7 from 3-point range to score a team-high 23 points, becoming the first Florida player to go perfect in seven 3-point attempts since Matt Walsh went 7 for 7 from 3-point range against Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 28, 2002. The highlight of the night for Bonham was a step-back 3-pointer at the first half buzzer, which put the Gators up 50-31 at halftime.

With the 7 3-pointers, Bonham improved to 14-34 from 3-point range (41.2 percent) on the season.

"That's definitely been my main focus in the offseason," Bonham said. "I've always been a pretty good finisher at the rim, adding the 3-point, just getting my release quicker, that was really what I was working on this summer."

Since being inserted into the starting lineup on Nov. 24 against Xavier, Bonham has scored 19 or more points in three of four games.

"He was really comfortable," Golden said. "Got going. I thought he made good decisions. He didn't overdo it. Obviously, he took seven pretty good ones if he could make them all."

Kowacie Reeves takes advantage of opportunity

The 6-foot-6 Reeves returned to the starting lineup in place of the injured Richard and scored 15 points in the first half and 19 in the game. He scored eight of Florida's first 22 points on two 3-pointers and a dunk.

Reeves didn't play in two in Florida's three games in Portland due to a coach's decision. Golden blamed himself for that on Tuesday, saying he didn't set up his rotations properly.

"Any competitor is going to want to play," Reeves said.

Golden said playing rotations right now are fluid as he attempts to find the right combinations that will work best in SEC play.

"Wacie had an opportunity tonight and he took advantage of it, and I'm really proud of him," Golden said. "I know it's been a tough couple of days on him, not playing as much as he wants, and I want him to be upset. He's a competitor, a great young man."

Alex Fudge posts first career double-double

After playing sluggish in the first half, Golden challenged 6-9 sophomore forward Alex Fudge to play with more energy and crash the boards.

Fudge responded by posting his first career double-double, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Of Fudge's 10 boards, nine came in the second half.

"I just couldn't be out there, doing nothing," Fudge said. "I think I was first half, probably one rebound on the stat line. Like I said when he told me, if you are going to be out there, have a purpose. I took that to heart, literally."

Golden said he's trying to get Fudge to become a more consistent player.

"Our hope is to build off that," Golden said of Fudge's second-half performance. "He's a really talented player and if he can provide some consistency at this level, it will really raise the ceiling of our team."