Florida Looks Much Improved In 78-58 Win Over Miami

Playing their best basketball of the season to this point the Florida Gators knocked off the Miami Hurricanes 78-58 in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic, clamping down defensively in the second half and running away with the ball game. Florida started the first half executing their offense with the most precision we’ve seen this year but Miami stayed in the game with some tough makes on ridiculously hard shots, something that wasn’t going to last for 40 minutes. In the second frame the Gators continued to put points on the board while the Hurricanes struggled on the other end and ultimately it led to Florida’s blowout win. The Gators will now take on the winner of Xavier and UConn on Sunday night, a game they should be well prepared for.

Bounce Back Game

After hardly seeing the floor in yesterday’s game against Saint Joseph’s with frustrating foul trouble Kerry Blackshear Jr. came back with a vengeance finishing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, and a block. He was the finisher at the end of some pretty pick and rolls with Andrew Nembhard (who finished with 9 assists) and was unrelenting on the offensive glass getting a number of second chance points off of put backs. Blackshear Jr. was the leader the Gators needed today and when he plays like this there isn’t going to be many teams capable of keeping up with him.

Getting Hot

Florida had an incredibly cold start to the season when it came to shooting threes but they found their rhythm against Miami going 10-19 (53%) from the land beyond. The Gators were getting open threes in to start the season but those shots weren’t falling and you knew that was going to turn around and today was one of those games where it seemed everything was going in. Kerry Blackshear Jr. (3-4), Noah Locke (2-4), Andrew Nembhard (2-5), Keyontae Johnson (1-2), Scottie Lewis (1-2), and Ques Glover (1-2) all hit and if those players can all be threats the Gators will be tough to defend.

Breakout Candidate

With Tre Mann out due to concussion protocol and Andrew Nembhard benched due to foul trouble (stemming from some, let’s say, questionable offensive foul calls) freshman Ques Glover was called upon and he answered with authority. Ending the game with 11 points and 2 assists he played with extreme confidence and didn’t look out of place competing against an ACC opponent. His speed was on display getting to the hoop and he had some jumpers that showed a glimpse at what he could be throughout his time at Florida. It looks like the Gators may have found a hidden gem with the unranked recruit Ques Glover and he showed that today.

Coming Alive

Another player that looks like he’s coming into his own is Scottie Lewis who had 13 points and 8 rebounds. Showing activity on the glass, hustling for loose balls, and coming up with steals it just seemed like he was everywhere on the floor and he showed why he was such a heavily sought after recruit. While he’s still adjusting to the pace of the college game it seems like he’s playing better every night and as he gets better, so do the Gators.

Turning Point?

After a rough start to the Gators’ season a convincing win against Miami on a neutral floor could hopefully be what gets things on the right track. Both their offense and defense was clicking at the same time, something that hadn’t happened yet this year, and that has to be encouraging especially without Tre Mann who figures to be an important piece. Their next game against Xavier or UConn is going to be an important one and if Florida gets the win there is an opportunity on their schedule to really put a run together and maybe get their way back into the AP Poll Top 25.

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.