Two-seed Florida Gators basketball (20-14) obliterated the North Florida Ospreys (22-12) on Tuesday evening in Jacksonville, Florida, tying a program record for threes in the first half on the way to a 97-68 victory in the first round of the 2016 NIT.
Credit head coach Mike White for getting the Gators motivated to play Tuesday despite missing out on a bid to their preferred postseason destination just two days earlier. UF’s 16 three-pointers on Tuesday marked the sixth most in team history in a single game.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s win with eight quick-hitters.
It was over when: Florida was already dominating North Florida, but an 11-0 run to end the first half put the Ospreys and their raucous home crowd out of commission. Though there were some gains made by the hosts in the second half, they never got within 18 of UF and only did that with 6:30 to play in the game.
Fantastic first half: The Gators played their best opening 20 minutes of the season on Tuesday, tying a school record with 12 three-pointers in the first half on the way to a 57-25 victory at the break. The 32-point margin was spurred on by some hot shooting from freshman guard KeVaughn Allen, a 10-0 run midway through the half and the team hitting 12-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc before the teams headed into the locker rooms.
Not all good: Falling into its old rhythm in the second half, Florida got comfortable and began just chucking threes while turning the ball over and rushing opportunities on offense. UF hit just 4-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc in the second half with two late threes saving that mark from looking even worse. The Gators likely would’ve won this game anyway, but the huge margin is mostly due to shots falling in the first half, which has not often been the case this season.
Benefit of the doubt: Junior point guard Kasey Hill impressed again on Tuesday … well, kind of. Hill was efficient from the field and was second on the team with 14 points, but he had as many assists as turnovers (three) and wasted most of his five steals. He threw the ball away on fastbreaks, missed two dunks and made some poor decisions. Still, considering how Hill’s been playing as of late, it looks like he’s still trending upward. Over the last three games, he’s averaging 16 points on 18-of-34 shooting with his assists and steals outweighing his turnovers and miscues.
Kasey Hill? #Gators
— Only Gators .com (@onlygators) March 16, 2016
Playing through the pain … just not anymore: Redshirt sophomore center John Egbunu was nearly a scratch for Tuesday as he continued to deal with a torn ligament in his right them. Egbunu not only played, he started, and went 6-for-10 from the floor with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He’s been tremendous despite being hampered over the last three games, averaging 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while going 13-for-18 from the field. After the game, White announced that Egbunu’s season is over as he will have surgery on Thursday; the coach noted that Thursday was the earliest he could go under the knife. It’s certainly an interesting decision with Egbunu still playing effectively despite his ailment.
Stars still lacking; yes, still: Allen and redshirt senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith combined for 26 points on Tuesday, though neither played particularly well on offense over the course of the entire contest. Allen hit four of his first five treys in the first half and then did not make a basket the rest of the game. Finney-Smith went just 4-of-14 with nine boards; he’s struggling to score efficiently but does have 27 rebounds over his last three games.
Everything else: UF shot better than .500 from the field and beyond the arc in the same game for just the third time this season … the Gators had 23 assists on 35 baskets … Florida registered 13 steals
What it means / up next: UF will head to Columbus, Ohio, to face three-seed Ohio State in second-round action on Sunday at noon. Florida is 4-0 all-time in the second round of the NIT (1986, 1992, 2008-09).