BASKETBALL

College basketball: Florida routs Ohio 82-48 in Victorinox Tampa Tip-Off

Gator Sports

TAMPA — Florida crushed Ohio 82-48 Wednesday night in the Victorinox Tampa Tip-Off at Amalie Arena.  The Gators (7-4), who built a 42-18 lead by halftime, shot 51.9 percent from the field, 45.5 percent from three, and outrebounded the Bobcats 39-26. Florida used a 17-0 run - its largest of the season - to take a commanding 33-10 lead in the late stages of the first half. The Gators held Ohio to a 4-for-25 start from the field (0-for-7 from 3), including 10 straight misses over an eight-minute span.

Overall, Ohio (5-5) shot 31.4 percent from the field, 21.4 percent from three and 56.5 percent from the line.

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Sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves led UF with 20 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Kyle Lofton added 15 points and seven assists.  It was Reeves' second career 20-point performance, both of which have come at Amalie Arena. He scored a career-high 21 vs. Texas A&M in the 2022 SEC Tournament.

Alex Fudge posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Dec 14, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Florida Gators guard Kowacie Reeves (14) is congratulated by head coach Todd Golden and teammates after making a three point basket at the end of the first half at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida coach Todd Golden was asked afterward where is the real Florida basketball team, considering the 21-point loss to UConn last week and Wednesday's rout.

"Probably somewhere in between, you know," Golden said. "It's been a little bit of what has made this preseason challenging for us as a staff to figure out who we are because we've played four really good teams - three of them in the top 11 in the NET, and Xavier's 40th and they're probably a little better than that - and then some teams that are probably mediocre. So we've done our jobs against those teams.

"We had one game against Florida State where we won by nine on the road. Everything else has been 10 or more. In terms of building our program and where we are, beating a team like this by 34 is not easy to do. ... That means a lot. It's really hard against a team like Ohio to do this. Our next step as a program, as a team, will be finishing the job against a Quad 1 opponent, and Oklahoma is an opportunity to do that next week."

Reeves was asked when he knew Wednesday would be a good night offensively.

"In the beginning without even shooting, like rebounding, playing hard, that gets you going - that gets me going, as a player," Reeves said. "That gets me in my rhythm offensively. Shots just came by my teammates doing a good job finding guys when the defense collapsed." Ohio was led by a couple of players making their Florida homecoming: freshman guard AJ Brown of Orlando, who had 14 points, and graduate student Dwight Wilson III of Tallahassee, who added 13 points and five rebounds.

Florida plays Oklahoma Tuesday (9:30 p.m., ESPN2) in Charlotte at the Jumpman Invitational before opening SEC competition at Auburn on Dec. 28.