It might not totally take away the sting from the Florida State loss but the Gators did what they could to cleanse their palate with a decisive 76-46 win over Charleston Southern on Friday. Playing suffocating defense, particularly in the second half, the Gators choked off any opportunity for a Charleston Southern comeback and a 14-point bounce back performance from KeVaughn Allen helped things along on the offensive side. The Gators now turn their sights towards La Salle, a quality mid-major that could give them a good challenge.
Playing mid-majors in November is all about building towards more important games in December and beyond and the Gators got a good chance tonight to see a lot of different defenses that challenged their ability to adjust. Charleston Southern threw everything but the kitchen sink against Florida, deploying different man defenses, 2-3 zones, and 1-3-1 zones all geared towards confusing the Gator attack. Florida handled the changes pretty well with only 7 turnovers and the experience could help them later in the year when they see some of these defenses again.
We got to see Chase Johnson finally get some action after a neck injury and he came in with a whole lot of intensity, aggressively challenging a few shots at the rim and coming away with some physical rebounds. His fiery nature did earn him a technical, something Mike White sat him down for before giving him another shift, but it was good to see a young player with some fight out there. His athleticism and hustle will be a welcome addition to the frontcourt.
Getting To The Rim
The Gators did a great job of getting offense towards the rim, something they weren’t capable of against Florida State. Not only were they able to get a handful of layups, they were also able to get to the free throw line a ton and also generate some inside-out threes that made the offense look much improved. Yes, this isn’t a power conference opponent but hopefully it helps them get into a rhythm and get some confidence for when they do play higher competition.
Player Of The Game
Though Allen was the high point man with 14 I think the player of the game had to be Andrew Nembhard who put in a Chris Chiozza-esque stat line of 7 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and only a single turnover. His do-it-all game helped Florida on both sides of the floor and you can see him getting more and more comfortable with the college game after each possession. He is comfortably leading the team in minutes through two games after putting in 30 tonight and you can tell Coach White is trying to give him as much run as possible to acclimatize to the college game. The fact that he has been able to comfortably handle the minute load is also definitely encouraging.
Locking It Down
Florida put the clamps on defensively only allowing Charleston Southern to shoot 25.9% from the field while turning the ball over 18 times. Going deep into the bench the Gators were able to keep the pressure cranked up all game and it constantly frustrated the Buccaneers. Once again, I know this isn’t the best competition the Gators will face but it’s still good to see improvements from game 1.