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No. 24 Florida Gators basketball (7-1) had its issues with the North Florida Ospreys on the road Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida, but ultimately prevailed in its first true road game of the season with a 91-60 victory.
The Gators led by 20 points at the break and saw their lead cut to 12 but bounced back to a strong finish for a final margin of 31 as it played a game as a ranked team for the first time in over two years.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Thursday’s victory below.
It was over when … UNF put an 8-0 run on UF to open the second half, but Florida maintained its poise, never allowed its lead to drop below double digits and outscored its hosts 46-27 over the final 18 minutes of the game.
Exceptional efforts: Following some standout performances from the Gators’ frontcourt in recent games, it was Florida’s guards that stepped up on Thursday. Sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza made 3-of-5 threes to post a team-high 16 points with a team-high nine assists, four rebounds and three steals. Graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry also scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Significant stats: Swarming defense by the Gators forced a season-high 20 turnovers on Thursday and held the Ospreys to just two assists on the evening. Florida also did a better job simply finding the bottom of the basket, shooting 58.5 percent from the field, 47.4 percent from downtown and 71.4 percent at the charity stripe. The rates from inside and behind the arc are season-highs.
What it means: Florida ended a stretch of playing eight games in 21 days to open the season with its first road win of the young campaign. The Gators did what they were supposed to do against an overmatched opponent and now prepare for their toughest nonconference test.
Odds and ends: UF posted season-highs of 91 points and 17 assists on Thursday … redshirt junior center John Egbunu has 15 blocks in his last four games and 20 on the season … sophomore C Kevarrius Hayes was efficient in 14 minutes, hitting 3-of-4 shots and 2-of-3 free throws for eight points and three boards … though redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone committed two turnovers, he made both his shots, his only three and 3-of-4 free throws on the way to eight points in 17 minutes
Up next: Florida will next face No. 5 Duke (6-1) in a neutral site contest on Dec. 6 in the Jimmy V. Classic. The Gators and Blue Devils will go head to head in New York, squaring off for the first time since the 2000 NCAA Tournament. UF is 4-12 all-time against Duke.