What to know: #8/7 Florida Gators vs. Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs
When: Monday, November 13, 2017 at 7 p.m. (ET)
Where: Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.
Records: Florida (0-0); Gardner-Webb (0-0)
Coaches: Mike White- 48-24 (3rd season at Florida), 149-64 (7th season overall); Tim Craft- 74-60 (5th season at Gardner-Webb/overall)
Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network
F Keith Stone (6-8, 245) Avg./Game: 3.6/2.2r
C Kevarrius Hayes (6-9, 225) Avg./Game: 6.2/4.4r
G Jalen Hudson (6-6, 192) Avg./Game: 8.4/3.9r
G Egor Koulechov (6-5, 205) Avg./Game: 18.2/8.9r
G Kevaughn Allen (6-2, 193) Avg./Game: 14.0/2.4r
F D.J. Laster (6-6, 230) Avg./Game: 7.9/3.7r
C L’Hassane Niangane (6-10, 245) Avg./Game: 2.2/3.5r
G Jamaal Robateau (6-5, 180) Avg./Game: 9.5/3.0r
G Christian Turner (5-10, 180) 1.8/2.0a
G David Efianayi (6-2, 185) 12.6/2.5r
The Florida Gators are set to play their first season opener in Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center since the arena was still under reconstruction for last year’s opener. Florida will play seven more home games (17) in 2017-18 than it did in the 2016-17 season (10).
The first of those will be against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs. GWU finished with a 19-14 overall record last season and an 11-7 record in Big South play. The season ended in an overtime thriller to top-seeded Winthrop in the conference tournament semi-finals.
Meanwhile, the Gators come in as one of the top teams in the country after posting a 27-9 record last season en route to an Elite Eight appearance in Mike White’s second season over the program.
Florida won each of its two exhibition games leading up to the season, defeating Jacksonville 88-47 and Tampa 94-57.
Junior guard Jalen Hudson led the Gators in scoring in both games with a combined 39 points. Along with Hudson’s scoring ability, Florida brings back Preseason First Team All-SEC member KeVaughn Allen. The junior guard led the team last season with 14 points per game.
The Gators also bring in graduate transfer guard Egor Koulechov from Rice. He averaged 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Owls last season to go with a 47.4 percentage from three-point range.
Senior guard Chris Chiozza, who is expected to be the heart and soul of this team in his final season, will be a game time decision after suffering a shoulder injury in the Jacksonville game. Chiozza is Florida’s only four-year senior and projects to get most of the minutes at point guard once he returns.
While the Gators should have some more offensive firepower, they lost a lot from a defense that was one of the best in the nation last season.
Junior center Kevarrius Hayes will lead the charge inside after starting 16 games last year and becoming just the fourth player in program history to block 60 shots in a single season.
On the other side, the Runnin’ Bulldogs are led by top returning scorer David Efianayi who averaged 12.6 points per game and shot 50.9 percent from the floor as a sophomore last season. Jamaal Robateau led the team from long range with 60 made three pointers a year ago.
Florida looks to extend a streak of 26 consecutive season opening victories when it takes on GWU on Monday night.