Image Credit: ESPN Images
No. 25 Florida Gators basketball (16-5) bounced back from a rough week with a couple dominant victories, prevailing on Saturday afternoon against the Oklahoma Sooners (8-12) in the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Florida beat the hosts 84-52 in Norman, Oklahoma, as the Gators improved to 2-0 all-time against the Sooners and 3-1 in challenge games.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest win below.
It was over when … Florida ended the first half on 14-2 run over the final four minutes of the period, taking a 15-point lead into halftime after a relatively even start to the contest. But it was a 7-0 run coming out of the break, which boosted the Gators’ overall run to 21-2 and their lead to 22 points, that really put the contest out of reach for the Sooners with nearly half the game to play. Late in the contest, UF put together a 15-0 run over four-plus minutes to take its largest advantage of the game at 32 points.
Exceptional effort: Oklahoma could not stop Florida sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes on Saturday. The big man scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed a career-high nine boards on the afternoon. Not only did he hit 7-of-11 shots (most right around the hoop), Hayes drained 6-of-9 free throws as well on his way to becoming the eighth player this season to lead UF in scoring.
Significant stats: The Gators have struggled inside as of late but not on Saturday as they outrebounded the Sooners 50-39 and scored 20 second-chance points. (Stat keepers did not track points in the paint for some reason.) Florida also did a good job sharing the ball with 16 assists on 27 baskets, while its defense held Oklahoma to just 18 made baskets (one three) and four assists on the afternoon.
Odds and ends: Coming off a sprained ankle, graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry made 2-of-3 triples for 15 points … junior forward Devin Robinson missed most of the first half with two early fouls but finished with 13 points while hitting 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc … Hayes, Barry and senior point guard Kasey Hill (12 points) were the only players to make more than three baskets for UF
What it means: Like the LSU game, Not much. The Gators were supposed to win this game handily and did, despite the fact that Florida was only favored by two entering the contest. UF improves to 16-1 against unranked opponents on the season and swept its week-long road trip.
Up next: After playing just one home game over the final two weeks of January, Florida opens February with back-to-back contests in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Unfortunately for the Gators, they have to play both in a three-day span. First up is Missouri on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a game that will air live nationally on ESPN2. That comes just 48 hours before Florida and Kentucky square off Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN.