BASKETBALL

Florida basketball: 3 takeaways from the Gators'82-48 win over Ohio in Tampa

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Florida Gators guard Kowacie Reeves (14) walks on the court during the first half. The Florida menÕs basketball team hosted the Stetson Hatters at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. OÕConnell Center in Gainesville, FL on Sunday, December 31, 2000. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Florida basketball bounced back from its worst home loss in 24 years with a lopsided win on Wednesday night, beating Ohio 82-48 on at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Improved ball movement led to a balanced scoring night as forward Kowacie Reeves led four scorers in double figures with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Florida scored 14 of its 28 baskets off assists after being held to six assists in its 75-54 home loss to Connecticut on Dec. 7. The loss to the Huskies was Florida's worst at the O'Connell Center since falling 79-54 to No. 8 Kentucky on Feb. 18, 1998.

The Gators (7-4) stayed connected on defense, holding Ohio scoreless for a 7:13 stretch during a 17-0 run that extended their lead to 33-10. Florida held Ohio (5-5) to just 31.4 percent shooting from the floor.

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Here are three takeaways from the game:

F Kowacie Reeves thrives as sixth man

Reeves returned to the bench to start the game, but Golden may have found a role for the athletic, 6-foot-6 sophomore forward as the first man off the bench.

In 18 minutes, Reeves went 7 of 11 from the field, 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 2 of 2 from the foul line. He turned the ball over once and was active and energic on both ends of the floor.

At the PK85 Tournament in Portland, Ore., Reeves played in just one of three games off the bench and first-year Florida coach Todd Golden blamed himself for not getting Reeves within the player rotation. Golden didn't make the same mistake on Wednesday night.

PG Kyle Lofton attacks the basket

Golden said Tuesday he expected an improved outing from point guard Kyle Lofton, who was looking healthier in practice after dealing with back spasms. Lofton responded with one of his best games of the season, finishing with 15 points and a season-high 7 assists. Lofton scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half, helping stake the Gators to a 42-18 halftime lead.

Lofton went 4 of 6 from the field, 2 of 3 from the foul line and 5 of 6 from the free throw line in a well-rounded offensive game. He had a better burst going to the basket off the dribble, which resulted in drawing more fouls. Florida is going to need Lofton to continue to demonstrate that kind of playmaking ability to have success in SEC play.

More inside production from PF Alex Fudge

Fudge posted his second double-double in the last four games with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Fudge displayed his athleticism throughout the game with 1 blocked shot and 2 steals. He hit the floor early for a loose ball to force a change of possession, showing an ability to do the little things necessary to win games.

In three games since moving into the starting lineup, Fudge has responded by averaging 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds. It's clear he doesn't want to let go of that starting role any time soon.