By Jenna Ladd:
Echoing the vibe of Florida’s football team, the men’s Florida Gators basketball (1-0) team relied heavily on their defensive play in their first season game against Navy as the Gators won 59-41.
The first half began with a 9-2 run by Navy, and the Gator offense was struggling to find their rhythm. With sloppy ball handling resulting in 11 turnovers in the first half alone, the Gators needed to rely on their game plan to keep them alive.
Someone needed to become a playmaker, and Florida found that in sophomore Devin Robinson. He came off the bench with some explosive game play, tallying 9 points and a career-high 8 rebounds in the first half of the game—four of those nine points came from dunks. With Robinson getting hot, it picked up the Gators’ momentum leading to a 15-4 run.
The Gators defense was able to hold Navy from closing in on the score and the offense found their rhythm ending the half going 20 for 29 from the bench. Florida walked off to the locker rooms with a lead of 29-19.
Coming back from halftime, the floor looked more like a soccer match than a basketball game. Neither team could get any shots up or hold on to the ball for long. The first points of the second half came from a pair of free throws from Dorian Finney-Smith – his first points of the game.
Even though Finney-Smith didn’t contribute much to the scoreboard, he was able to contribute heavily off the glass with 12 rebounds—a perfect example of how much this team relied on their defense during this ball game.
After Doe’s points, the Midshipmen put up a free throw followed by a basket behind the arc – which clearly got to John Egbunu. All 6’11” of the center came back down the court with the first of his two slam-dunks, just 12 seconds after Navy’s trey.
Brandone Francis-Ramirez – the winner of the three point shootout at Gator Madness – had to put at least one up to keep Gator fans’ faith in him as a good shot from downtown. Florida went just 3-19 in threes, but you better believe one of those came from Brandone.
After BFR’s basket, the Gators held a 14-point lead at 40-26 with 11:17 to go. Refusing to let the ball game get stolen away from them, Dorian Finney-Smith slammed one in extending their lead to 42-26.
The rest of the second half was back and forth play, but the Gators managed to get a peak lead of 20 over the Midshipmen. Florida was able to keep their lead alive for the remainder of the game, ending with a final score of 59-41.
-Devin Robinson got his first collegiate double-double, with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He was also the only double-digit scorer for the Gators.
-Freshman KeVaughn Allen came in clutch for Florida’s offense, scoring 9 points.
-Not making much of an impact on the offense, forward Dorian Finney-Smith adjusted and took on the role of a defensive player with 12 rebounds.
-The Gators improved on what has been their worse category, shooting 10-19 from the free throw line (52.6%).