Threes were raining down in Gainesville Tuesday night as the Gators blew out the North Florida Ospreys 98-66. Shooting a blistering 16-28 from behind the line there wasn’t much North Florida could do to defend the onslaught. Freshman Noah Locke led the Gators with a career high 18 points while Andrew Nembhard had an astonishing 11 assists while not turning the ball over even once. Undersized center Noah Horchler competed all night for the Ospreys with 16 points and 10 rebounds and was extremely impressive in the loss.
Spreading It Out
Offense has been the issue for the Gators this season and though this was against a young team at home it will still great to see 16 threes rip the net while shooting 55.6% from the field. They also had 6 players score in double figures which is also encouraging as the Gators head into a tough stretch playing two solid defensive teams in West Virginia and Michigan State. Noah Locke (18), Deaundrae Ballard (15), KeVaughn Allen (13), Kevarrius Hayes (12), Keyontae Johnson (11), and Keith Stone (10) all contributed offensively and that kind of diversified attack will be what the Gators need if they’re going to take their game to the next level.
I wouldn’t consider them totally back quite yet but there were a few Gators that had rough starts to the season that took steps forward tonight. Jalen Hudson hit two threes as he eased himself back into the offense, Michael Okauru battled all night defensively and earned himself more minutes, and KeVaughn Allen had his first efficient night of the season going 5-9. Kevarrius Hayes’ 12 points could also go into the category of confidence building stat lines as he hasn’t always been the greatest finisher around the hoop. All together, I think this game was a step in the right direction for the Gators who have had slow starts to the season.
Mike White challenged his players before the game to compete and they were flying around the floor in this one determined to get their hands on every loose ball. Florida had 11 steals on the night with many of them going the other way for layups while Dontay Bassett and Kevarrius Hayes also contributed 2 blocks each. Michael Okauru’s 2 steals were especially impressive due to his diving on the floor to get them while KeVaughn Allen’s 3 heists showed that he has some of the most active hands in the country. Though the story of the game is probably going to be the three-point shooting it should definitely be noted that the Gators’ hustle alone could have won them this contest.
With a week off to prepare for West Virginia the Gators will hope to keep some of their three-point shooting bottled up and ready to go against a perennially stout defensive squad. With Isaiah Stokes coming back against North Florida while Gorjok Gak and Chase Johnson nurse injuries this will hopefully be a chance for recovery as they look to get back to game action.