Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators, Riley Kugel rout Loyola Maryland in 2023-24 opener

By OnlyGators.com Staff
November 6, 2023
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators, Riley Kugel rout Loyola Maryland in 2023-24 opener

Image Credit: UAA

A completely retooled roster took the court for the Florida Gators on Monday night, and it had no trouble dispatching of the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds in a 93-73 victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. Head coach Todd Golden improved to 2-0 in season openers at Florida, which coasted to victory in the second half ahead of a huge matchup later this week.

Let’s take a look at what went right for the Gators on Monday with some Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … sophomore guard Riley Kugel scored four straight points to push Florida ahead by 23 with 6:19 to play. The Gators led by as many as 26 points with 12:38 remaining but largely took their collective foot off the gas down the stretch until the final buzzer.

First half focus: Florida opened the season on a 16-0 run with redshirt senior forward Tyrese Samuel contributing 11 points and 6 rebounds in the opening period. The Gators dominated with a 14-3 edge on the fastbreak, including two huge dunks.

Exceptional efforts: Kugel exploded for 14 points in the second half on his way to a game-high 23 points on 10 of 15 shooting along with 4 assists and 3 rebounds. He missed all three of his 3-pointers and otherwise went 10 of 12 from inside the arc. Sophomore center Micah Handlogten started but scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, hitting 7 of 8 shots to go along with 6 boards. Samuel finished with 15 points and a game-high 8 rebounds, while freshman forward Alex Condon seemed to be everywhere all night with 13 points and 3 boards while hitting 2 of 3 from downtown.

Odds & ends: This as the first meeting between Florida and Loyola Maryland … the Gators improved to 10-1 all-time against Patriot League teams with 10 straight wins dating back to 1961 … Golden is now 2-0 in season openers … Florida hit a paltry 50% (15 of 30) from the charity stripe … the Gators dominated the Hounds off turnovers (21-12), on the fastbreak (22-8) and especially in the paint (54-34) … UF held a 39-29 rebounding edge … the Gators led for the final 39:06 of the game, never trailing in the contest

What it means: Florida took care of business, plain and simple. UF was supposed to win decisively and did exactly that. Most important was that the team looked completely sync. There was solid ball rotation and team basketball played throughout. That may sound simplistic and basic, but for a squad with eight new scholarship players — many of whom playing significant roles — it was important to see Florida play in this manner with more than talent being the difference in the game.

What’s next? The Gators’ level of competition amps up drastically as Florida will turn around and face Virginia in Charlotte this Friday in the 2023 Hall of Fame Series. The game will tip at 7 p.m. ET and air live on the ACC Network. The Gators are 2-1 all-time against the Cavaliers with consecutive victories in 2012 and 2017 and all three prior games also played at neutral sites. Both teams received votes in the Preseason AP Top 25 but were unranked to start the season.

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