The Florida Gators (8-3) were finally back home in Gainesville on Tuesday, December 22nd to play the Jacksonville University Dolphins (5-8) after three consecutive road games.
This basketball team came ready to play a 40-minute game, starting with the tip-off. Six-foot-eleven center John Egbunu won the tip caught by Dorian Finney-Smith who assisted KeVaughn Allen on a slam-dunk less than five seconds into the game.
That moment gave the Gators the confidence they needed on the offensive side of the ball, which has been lagging behind their spectacular defensive play. Just one minute later, Egbunu slammed in another basket putting the Gators up by 4.
However, Jacksonville was not ready to let Florida take off with the lead that early in the game. The Dolphins came back with consecutive baskets to tie the game up at 4 with 17:42 to go in the first.
The Gators started to pull away, as far as a 5-point lead, but once again the Dolphins trimmed it back down to a tie once again. The game tied up two more times until Florida was able to finally pull away with a 9-0 run that left them up 12 points with just under seven minutes until halftime.
Jacksonville was eager to get back in the game before the half ended, but was unable to get very close as the half ended with Florida up 39-31.
The second half of the game was not as fast paced for Florida, despite starting off with a shot from downtown by Alex Murphy. Jacksonville made three consecutive jumpers that trimmed down Florida’s lead to just 5 points at 42-37.
After the Dolphins went on a run, they started to play harder in hopes of taking home the upset to Jacksonville. Their intense play did hold the Gators from making shots, however it resulted in a lot of fouls against them.
Florida was able to stay in the game, going on a 4-0 run from free throws alone. The Gators extended their run to 7-0 until getting interrupted with a Dolphin basket from downtown leaving the score at 49-40 with 13:06 to go.
With the Dolphins within single-digits, the Gators were ready to pull away and keep the ball in their court. Devin Robinson, who was pretty quiet the first half with only five points, revved up after a dunk that put Florida up by 14 points. Within the next three minutes he put in a shot from downtown and slammed another one in, more than doubling his points in the first half in a matter of minutes.
From there, the Gators relentlessly kept putting the ball in the basket without allowing the Dolphins to make much of a game. After the Gators got more than a 20-point lead, there was just no coming back for Jacksonville.
The Gators had as much as a 31 point-lead, and ended up defeating the Dolphins 89-65, ending on the sweetest note; a basket from sophomore walk on Zach Hodskins-his first as a Gator.
Florida will take a break for Christmas but will be back in the O’Dome on December 29th to take on their in-state rivals, the Florida State Seminoles.