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    University of Florida sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen shoots a three against Kentucky / Gator Country photo by David Bowie

Florida Gators basketball gets
revenge against South Carolina

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Written by Bailiegh Williams, February 22, 2017, 0 Comments,
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The No. 13 Florida Gators basketball team got its ninth consecutive victory with an 81-66 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday. After suffering an embarrassing 57-53 loss, that included an 0-for-17 night from three, in the first matchup earlier in the season, the Gators were hungry to steal a win from the Gamecocks at home. It was the third consecutive loss for a struggling South Carolina team.
Florida was hot offensively from the very beginning, as KeVaughn Allen got things going by draining a three-pointer on the very first possession. He went on to score the first six points of the game for the Gators.
Florida went on to take a 12-point lead with less than six minutes remaining in the first half. South Carolina promptly went on a 17-2 run as both the offense and defense seemingly fell apart in the five-minute span. The Gamecocks took their first lead of the game on a three-pointer to go up 33-30 and it looked as though they would take all the momentum into the locker room.
Chris Chiozza returned the favor with a three on the other end to tie it back up and the Gators finished the half off with a beautiful Allen steal and dunk assisted by Chiozza. Florida took a 35-33 lead to the half.
“That gave us a little more momentum going into the half, that we had lost,” said Chiozza. “They had great defense the last four or five minutes there. They forced us into a lot of turnovers and converted. They had a lot of fast break points in the first half.”
South Carolina would quickly tie the game to start the second half, but would never lead again. The Gators were holding onto a three-point lead seven minutes into the half, but after Allen and Devin Robinson hit back-to-back threes to take a 55-46 lead, it was a stroll the rest of the way.
One of the biggest deciding factors for the Gators in the second half was a much better turnover margin. In the first half of the game, especially the final minutes of the half, Florida was very sloppy with the ball. The Gators has 12 turnovers to just three assists in the first 20 minutes of play, compared to a much better four turnovers to 10 assists in the second half.
Mike White was very pleased with his team’s defensive performance in the game. “The challenge has been to guard at this level,” said White. “Over the last nine, I can’t say that every minute we have, but we’ve been a lot closer to it in these past nine, to that max-out defensive performance than we were in the previous six or seven or however many there were. We lost to Vandy at home, or even in a couple wins, where we just didn’t defend at the level we’re defending and rebounding right now.”
Offensively, Allen was aggressive for the Gators, which is something his coaches and teammates have been begging him to be all season. It was especially important for him to play well with Canyon Barry playing on an injured ankle. Barry played just nine minutes and had no points.
Allen had his second-best scoring total of the season with 26 points in the game. He was 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-5 from long-range. Half of his offensive production came from the free-throw line. He was 13-for-14 from the line, as he got to the line more than all of his teammates combined. White said he felt Allen’s aggressiveness in the game positively affected everyone else’s mindset.
“I think certain guys on certain teams have that effect on their team,” he said. “KeVaughn certainly has that effect on our team, because his aggressiveness level isn’t always consistent, and so, when he makes one, I think his teammates know that might lead to more aggressiveness by him and they feel better, because they all want him to be aggressive.
Allen also came down with a team-high seven boards, compared to his season average coming into the game of 2.5 rebounds per game. While his offense helped ease the blow of losing Barry’s productivity, his defense played a role in replacing what John Egbunu. White has been challenging the guards and other players to step up on defense in Egbunu’s absence and Allen rose to the occasion.
“We’ve challenged KeVaughn since he’s been here to become a better rebounder and to become the best defender that he can be,” White said. “At times, he’s a terrific defender, and he’s still growing. He’s a sophomore. He’s been a good defender for us this year. He’s got a chance to become the best defender on the team, in time. It’ll continue to be the challenge to him, but he’s never rebounded like he did tonight. He embraced the challenge. The challenge to our team has been, as we talked about the other day, not one guy can do for our team what John did for us. We’ve gotta do it all as a team. We’ve gotta do it collectively and we’re not just gonna get it done with the fives.”
Robinson was next behind Allen both offensively and defensively, as he put up 14 points, going 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-6 from three. He recorded six rebounds, three blocks and two steals on defense. Chiozza (12) and Kasey Hill (10) were also in double-digits on the night.
Florida will now face what will possibly be its toughest test of the season as it travels to a hostile environment at Kentucky on Saturday as the two teams will battle it out for the top spot in the SEC. While the Gators are playing at a high level right now, having won nine straight, they enter the Kentucky game with very cautious confidence.
The Gators dominated in a 22-point win over the Wildcats at home a few weeks back, but this game is not going to be quite as easy on the road.
“I think we can go up there, and if we play really well, have a chance to win. I do. I think that,” said White. “I think our guys think that, but everybody’s gotta be a little bit better … It’ll be difficult, and everybody’s better at home, as well. It’s a difficult challenge. It’ll be a high level basketball game. None of us are ready for it right now. We’re enjoying beating South Carolina, but I know when that thing’s tipped on Saturday, we’ll have a bunch of guys getting after it. We’ll be excited about it.”

About Bailiegh Williams

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The No. 13 Florida Gators basketball team got its ninth consecutive victory with an 81-66 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday. After suffering an embarrassing 57-53 loss, that included an 0-for-17 night from three, in the first matchup earlier in the season, the Gators were hungry to steal a win from the Gamecocks at home. It was the third consecutive loss for a struggling South Carolina team.
Florida was hot offensively from the very beginning, as KeVaughn Allen got things going by draining a three-pointer on the very first possession. He went on to score the first six points of the game for the Gators.
Florida went on to take a 12-point lead with less than six minutes remaining in the first half. South Carolina promptly went on a 17-2 run as both the offense and defense seemingly fell apart in the five-minute span. The Gamecocks took their first lead of the game on a three-pointer to go up 33-30 and it looked as though they would take all the momentum into the locker room.
Chris Chiozza returned the favor with a three on the other end to tie it back up and the Gators finished the half off with a beautiful Allen steal and dunk assisted by Chiozza. Florida took a 35-33 lead to the half.
“That gave us a little more momentum going into the half, that we had lost,” said Chiozza. “They had great defense the last four or five minutes there. They forced us into a lot of turnovers and converted. They had a lot of fast break points in the first half.”
South Carolina would quickly tie the game to start the second half, but would never lead again. The Gators were holding onto a three-point lead seven minutes into the half, but after Allen and Devin Robinson hit back-to-back threes to take a 55-46 lead, it was a stroll the rest of the way.
One of the biggest deciding factors for the Gators in the second half was a much better turnover margin. In the first half of the game, especially the final minutes of the half, Florida was very sloppy with the ball. The Gators has 12 turnovers to just three assists in the first 20 minutes of play, compared to a much better four turnovers to 10 assists in the second half.
Mike White was very pleased with his team’s defensive performance in the game. “The challenge has been to guard at this level,” said White. “Over the last nine, I can’t say that every minute we have, but we’ve been a lot closer to it in these past nine, to that max-out defensive performance than we were in the previous six or seven or however many there were. We lost to Vandy at home, or even in a couple wins, where we just didn’t defend at the level we’re defending and rebounding right now.”
Offensively, Allen was aggressive for the Gators, which is something his coaches and teammates have been begging him to be all season. It was especially important for him to play well with Canyon Barry playing on an injured ankle. Barry played just nine minutes and had no points.
Allen had his second-best scoring total of the season with 26 points in the game. He was 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-5 from long-range. Half of his offensive production came from the free-throw line. He was 13-for-14 from the line, as he got to the line more than all of his teammates combined. White said he felt Allen’s aggressiveness in the game positively affected everyone else’s mindset.
“I think certain guys on certain teams have that effect on their team,” he said. “KeVaughn certainly has that effect on our team, because his aggressiveness level isn’t always consistent, and so, when he makes one, I think his teammates know that might lead to more aggressiveness by him and they feel better, because they all want him to be aggressive.
Allen also came down with a team-high seven boards, compared to his season average coming into the game of 2.5 rebounds per game. While his offense helped ease the blow of losing Barry’s productivity, his defense played a role in replacing what John Egbunu. White has been challenging the guards and other players to step up on defense in Egbunu’s absence and Allen rose to the occasion.
“We’ve challenged KeVaughn since he’s been here to become a better rebounder and to become the best defender that he can be,” White said. “At times, he’s a terrific defender, and he’s still growing. He’s a sophomore. He’s been a good defender for us this year. He’s got a chance to become the best defender on the team, in time. It’ll continue to be the challenge to him, but he’s never rebounded like he did tonight. He embraced the challenge. The challenge to our team has been, as we talked about the other day, not one guy can do for our team what John did for us. We’ve gotta do it all as a team. We’ve gotta do it collectively and we’re not just gonna get it done with the fives.”
Robinson was next behind Allen both offensively and defensively, as he put up 14 points, going 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-6 from three. He recorded six rebounds, three blocks and two steals on defense. Chiozza (12) and Kasey Hill (10) were also in double-digits on the night.
Florida will now face what will possibly be its toughest test of the season as it travels to a hostile environment at Kentucky on Saturday as the two teams will battle it out for the top spot in the SEC. While the Gators are playing at a high level right now, having won nine straight, they enter the Kentucky game with very cautious confidence.
The Gators dominated in a 22-point win over the Wildcats at home a few weeks back, but this game is not going to be quite as easy on the road.
“I think we can go up there, and if we play really well, have a chance to win. I do. I think that,” said White. “I think our guys think that, but everybody’s gotta be a little bit better … It’ll be difficult, and everybody’s better at home, as well. It’s a difficult challenge. It’ll be a high level basketball game. None of us are ready for it right now. We’re enjoying beating South Carolina, but I know when that thing’s tipped on Saturday, we’ll have a bunch of guys getting after it. We’ll be excited about it.”