Three observations following Florida’s 111-105 double-overtime win against Gonzaga in the PK80 Tournament:
— In an epic game, senior point guard Chris Chiozza showed leadership, durability, toughness and a continued knack for making big shots in big spots. Chiozza’s career-high 26 points and 10 assists didn’t tell the full story of his impact — though back-to-back 3-pointers by Jalen Hudson and Chiozza in double OT put the Gators (5-0) ahead to stay 103-97. Chiozza’s veteran savvy allowed him to keep his head in the game and stay 46 minutes on the floor, shake off 5 early turnovers and play the entire overtime with 4 fouls while maintaining an aggressive pace. There were more than a few instances when Chiozza wasn’t afraid to take contact in the lane to get to the basket or draw a foul.
— Hudson set a career-high with 35 points and brought the Gators back with eight 3-pointers in the second half and overtime. At times Hudson can be a shot-hound, but Florida needed a player to emerge offensively in the second half with forward Egor Koulechov (1-9) struggling from the floor. Hudson came up with a big blocked shot in the second overtime as well. In addition, can’t underestimate the performance of junior guard KeVaughn Allen who hit a big driving layup to tie the game in regulation and force OT and went 11 of 11 from the foul line to help close the game out in double-OT. Allen scored 23 points despite going just 2 of 9 from 3-point range, a sign that he can score in other ways when his perimeter shots aren’t falling.
— Florida was outscored 52-24 in the paint and had no answers inside to deal with Gonzaga senior forward Johnathan Williams, who scored a career-high 39 points on 16 of 22 shooting from the floor. Junior center Kevarrius Hayes lasted just 24 minutes on the floor before fouling out and 6-8, 240 pound Keith Stone similarly couldn’t handle the 6-9, 228 pound Williams inside. Interior defense is going to be an issue until senior center John Egbunu returns in January. Until then, the Gators are going to need to be creative with double teams in the post.
The game against No. 1 Duke (7-0) is set for 10:30 p.m. Sunday with coverage on ESPN.
Well Mike White never led us on. The Gators have terrible problems with rebounding and defending in the paint. It’s like there is no defense at all inside the perimeter. Much much to improve upon.
But the Gator win proves they have enormous heart and patience, and that they can get the ball to the hot shooter.
This will be a team we will really be proud of this year.
Great game and very entertaining going back and forth. Not to take away from Kevin’s observations but to add my own takeaways:
1. This year’s team shows a lot of “togetherness” and looks out for each other on the court. After each whistle, they circle around each another, pick teammates up off the floor, and give each other emotional support. As an example, Chiozza was visibly upset after what looked like a clean shot block but was called for a foul. I was impressed with the way his teammates circled around him and blocked his path to the ref. In the big scheme, this team togetherness keeps their individual emotions in check and prevents individuals from getting rattled during adversity especially in an away game environment.
2. Hudson may be the most valuable player on the team. After he got two early fouls and sat for the rest of the half, Florida lacked any offensive flow. They only scored 29 points in the first half vs 49 points when he returned in the second half. 3Gor either had a bad night or got shut down offensively throughout the game. Let’s hope Hudson doesn’t get into foul trouble or God forbid he gets injured because they are a different team without him. That’s how valuable he is.
3. We don’t have a lock down defender this year like we have had in years past. We had no answers against Williams as he scored at will this night and against Stanford’s Travis the night before.
We will be a COMPLETELY different defensive team once Egbunu and Stokes return. Williams wouldn’t have scored 15 if Big John was D’ing him up all night. AND THERE IS NO WAY KEITH STONE WEIGHS 240 LBS. That is just a joke. If Stone has 30 lbs on Williams then I’m Tim Tebow.
Even with our lack of defense inside the paint, this is still one of the best gator basketball teams I have seen in my lifetime. Once Egbunu and Stokes return, it very well be the best gator basketball team I have ever seen.
The leadership and togetherness of this team is amazing. The growth and development of guys like Cheese, Hudson, Stone, Gak, and even Allen, has been nothing short of incredible. The growth Cheese has made since his freshman year, when he was too rattled to even shoot foul shots (think he was around 50% on the year) is just amazing. He may very well be the most valuable point guard in the country. Not to mention Okaura, our lowest rated recruit, has been amazing this season as well despite his limited minutes behind our veteran group of guards. Thought he deserved more playing time during the second half and over times. Just hard to find minutes for him.
Can Mike White coach football, too? His players show more improvement from one year to the next than the football players have shown in three or four years. Not even close. And the execution of what he teaches is just elite, vs. the consistent horrible execution of the football players.
Wow. We have a team of shot makers. Haven’t seen that in awhile. Should be a fun season!
J Williams is definitely NBA bound. Defense was a struggle and yet we won a hard fought game. It was also basically a home game for Zags. I’m looking forward to next game with exception of starting time. These are the time of games that make us a better team.
It’s great to have a Gator team ranked, in the top 10 and under-rated.