Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators overwhelm Stetson in building-block win

By Jake Winderman
December 6, 2020
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators overwhelm Stetson in building-block win
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball’s 2020-21 home opener went about as well as anyone could have expected. The Gators cruised past the Stetson Hatters, 84-40, on Sunday afternoon in absolutely dominating fashion. Florida clamped down defensively, forcing 23 turnovers and holding the Hatters to 19.6% shooting from the floor.

The Gators improved to 3-0 with consecutive blowout victories and may well be an AP Top 25 team when the new polls are released on Monday. Florida has bounced back from that shaky start against Army West Point and now appears poised for the rest of its season.

What went down on Sunday as the Gators wrapped up their opening week of the season? Keep on reading for our Fastbreak takeaways from the game.

It was over when … Florida went on a 20-5 run between the 6:28 mark of the first half and the 16:20 mark of the second half. The Gators took a 45-15 lead, their first 30-point lead of the contest, and never looked back. UF led by as many as 47 points in the game.

Florida dominated both halves, outscoring Stetson 34-15 in the first and 52-25 in the second. It hit a season-high nine three-pointers during its first game in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and shot an impressive 39.1% from downtown. Unsurprisingly, UF also set season-highs in offensive rebounds (14), total rebounds (44), assists (17) and free-throw percentage (87.5%).

Exceptional efforts: Junior forward Keyontae Johnson, junior guard Noah Locke and sophomore G Scottie Lewis combined for 44 of Florida’s 84 points. Johnson led the way with 19 points and five rebounds on 7 of 13 shooting. The swingman is now hitting 63.9% from the field this season and averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game.

Locke hit over half of the Gators’ made threes, going 5 of 6 from downtown for 15 points with a steal. It marked the 10th game of Locke’s three-year Florida career with at least five triples. Lewis finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds plus a career-high six assists, a steal and a block. It was his’ second career double-double, the first without an overtime period.

Odds and ends: Stetson’s 40 points were the fewest allowed by a Gators team under head coach Mike White in a regular-season game … Florida allowed just one field goal over a stretch of 17:10 spanning halftime … UF has now won 30 straight home openers dating back to 1990 … junior F Osayi Osifo made Gators debut … Osifo and freshman F Samson Ruzhenstev scored their first points … Florida improved to 96-37 (.722) against unranked opponents and 50-3 when scoring 80+ points under White

What it means: A win over Stetson is likely a Quadrant IV victory come NCAA Tournament time. The victory doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it got the Gators off to a strong start at home as well as a 3-0 start to the 2020-21 season that could help propel them into a national ranking this week.

What’s next? Florida will face in-state rival No. 22 Florida State on Saturday, Dec. 12, though UF is looking for a midweek opponent on the fly due to COVID-19 cancellations. The Gators have lost six straight games to the Seminoles with White winless in the series. Florida State represents Florida’s first Quadrant I opportunity this season. A win would break a drought against the Gators’ biggest non-conference rival, provide a quality data point and perhaps set the tone for the rest of the season. A loss wouldn’t be the end of the world as Florida State is a top 20 team by most metrics, but it would be disappointing. A tip-off time has not yet been set for the game.

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