No. 7 Florida Gators basketball opened the 2014-15 season on Friday evening, hosting the William & Mary Tribe at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.
The Gators took down the Tribe 68-45, winning their 24th consecutive season-opening game and improving to 19-0 in such games under Donovan. UF also extended its home winning streak to 33 games, the longest such streak in program history, which is also tied for the longest active streak in the nation.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Florida held an insurmountable halftime lead but still had its share of struggles in the second period. With five minutes left to play, freshmen point guard Chris Chiozza and forward Devin Robinson hooked up on a pair of plays that pushed the Gators’ lead up to 26. Chiozza first hit Robinson for an alley-oop. On the very next possession, Chiozza took off on a fastbreak, finding Robinson under the basket for a layup that put UF ahead 63-37 with 4:45 to play. Chiozza did it all with four points (2-of-2 shooting) with three assists and two rebounds, while Robinson went 4-for-9 from the field with four boards and a late block.
Prominent player: Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith sprained his left wrist early in the contest but returned after a short trip to the locker room and wound up as Florida’s top performer on Friday. Finney-Smith scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, hitting all four of his free throws and adding five boards to boot. He netted five-straight as part of a 7-0 UF run in the second half and scored nine of the Gators’ first 13 points in the later period. He left the court late in the second half but most likely as a precaution.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
First half focus: Florida opened up with some hot shooting, hitting 7-of-8 attempts from the field and all four of their triples to jump ahead 18-8 just six minutes into the game. The Gators stalled when their second unit came into the game but picked it up over the final eight minutes of the half, outscoring the Tribe 21-4 to take a 42-18 lead into the break.
Perfect play: A 15-0 run that lasted 5:18 spotted UF a 22-point lead late in the first half; it was highlighted by a couple of impressive plays including a fastbreak one-handed jam by Finney-Smith. But the play of the game was one possession later, as sophomore PG Kasey Hill stole the ball off the press, worked his way to the hoop and tossed it over his shoulder to a driving Michael Frazier II, who laid it in for an easy two. Hill missed all three of his shots but went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe, adding three assists, four rebounds and two steals with just a single turnover. Frazier, the junior guard, hit 5-of-12 shots and 2-of-6 threes for 12 points with five rebounds and two dimes. He missed his final four attempts from beyond the arc.
Standout stat: UF dominated the boards early on Friday, outrebounding WMU 23-10 in the first half but just 39-31 at the final buzzer. Florida also made 12 of its 15 free throws but drained just 6-of-17 threes, going 1-for-7 in the second half after starting 5-for-10 in the opening 20 minutes.
What it means: The Gators handily beat an opponent in the Tribe that were not expected to be any problem for one of the top teams in the country. UF started the game hot out of the gate, rebounded from some shooting struggles early in the second half and finished strong for the victory.
Next up: Florida will look to correct some issues before hosting Miami on Monday in the O’Dome. The Gators and Hurricanes will tip-off at 7 p.m. in a game that will air live on ESPNU.
Random notes: Florida’s first points of the season came via a three-pointer by redshirt senior transfer center Jon Horford, who hit 4-of-5 shots for 11 points with five rebounds in the game … redshirt senior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz was the first substitution off the bench and led the Gators with seven boards; he also went 3-for-4 from the field, scoring six points in 23 minutes (fifth-most on the team) … redshirt sophomore G Dillon Graham, freshman walk-on G Zach Hodskins and redshirt junior walk-on F Lexx Edwards all saw the court in the season opener
Shoutout to @JakeDa_Snake with the post game interview!
— Scottie Wilbekin (@scottiew_5) November 15, 2014