Riding another hot shooting night from behind the arc, the Florida Gators rewarded fans in Portland as well as fans back home who stayed up past midnight to watch with a 108-87 trouncing of the Stanford Cardinal. Egor Koulechov lead the way for the Gators with 26 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists, once again showing off his versatile skillset with deep catch and shoot threes as well as physical drives to the hoop for tough layups. Leading the way for Stanford was forward Reid Travis, whose 23 points and 5 rebounds wasn’t enough to prop up what was a disappointing effort by many of his teammates. Florida’s 108 points is the third time they have hit triple digits in four games this season. They now will go on to play the winner of Ohio State and #17 ranked Gonzaga in a matchup tomorrow night. Let’s take a look back at what we saw tonight.
With Kevarrius Hayes missing tonight’s contest with a suspension for violating team rules, the Gators were forced to start an undersized lineup with four smalls (Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson, and Egor Koulechov) with Keith Stone playing as a diminutive center. Two of the Cardinal’s best players are in the frontcourt so I had some concerns about how they would be defended, but through great individual effort and team strategy the Gators were able to contain Stanford’s offense. Rebounding was mostly even for both teams (Stanford edged out the Gators 28-27) so another potential pitfall of playing small was avoided.
Mixing It Up
For the first time this season we got to see the Gators in a 1-3-1 zone. I am a huge fan of 1-3-1 zone in general due to it’s disruptive nature and the different wrinkles you can use out of it, so I was happy to see it utilized. Some basics of how you play 1-3-1: firstly, you usually have your power forward at the top of the zone. Their primary role is to limit ball movement from side to side, and funnel dribble penetration towards the middle. The middle of the 1-3-1 is where you put your center, whose role is to patrol the paint and stop the dribble penetration funneled to him. At the bottom of the zone you put a quick player who is responsible for running the baseline and covering the corners should the ball get passed there. The wings on each side also help in funneling ball handlers and matching up with opponents around the perimeter. This defense is tough to prepare for if you’re an opponent and it really utilizes Florida’s team speed. Though I don’t suspect it will be used a ton, look for it to be played in stretches later in the conference season and in post season play.
Chiozza’s Big Night
Playing like he had the ball on a string Chiozza was able to knife through Stanford’s defense with regularity to make plays, tallying 14 points and 11 assists with only 2 turnovers. His ability to create easy points for teammates is truly special, and on nights he plays like this you can expect offensive explosions for the Gators.
Everything went well for the Gators tonight when it came to shooting the rock, as they went 58.5% from the field, 81% from the charity stripe, and a monumental 68.3% from three. We’ll look to see if they can stay hot tomorrow night with a very short rest.
There is a lot of basketball to be played this weekend, so the big lead was an opportunity to rest starters and give some opportunity to the bench. Nobody played more then 25 minutes, and nobody played fewer then 12 (except the walk-ons, who were able to play 5 minutes each). Hopefully this will keep Florida’s legs fresh all weekend long and they can continue to play at the brisk pace Coach White is looking for them to run at for 40 minutes every night.
The PK80 tournament will continue to bring on big games and great opportunities for the Gators, so keep it locked to Gator Country where we will have your Gators basketball needs covered all weekend long!