Florida improved to 2-1 on the season with a wire-to-wire win against the LaSalle Explorers on Wednesday.
For the first time this season the post players made their presence felt. Kevarrius Hayes, Isaiah Stokes, Keyontae Johnson, and Chase Johnson all had memorable games that’ll make every Gator fan excited looking ahead to next week’s Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Senior big man Kevarrius Hayes started of the first half strong making three field goals in the first 180 seconds of the game. Then as he slipped into foul trouble with nearly 15 minutes remaining in the first half, Mike White had to sit down his vocal senior leader. With out Hayes of the floor, the Gators could not find a consistent rhythm as the lead stayed between six and eight points. A late first half three by 5th year senior wing Jalen Hudson pushed the Florida lead to eight with a 40-32 lead going into the locker room break.
During the post game press conference, Hayes talked about the changes made at halftime saying, “We had a little talk, we addressed a lot of mistakes that we had made in the first half and kind of made it a point to fix it in the second.” And by all means that point was made as the Gators went on a 19-3 run over the first 8:50 of the second half. In that time frame, Hayes was on the court provide defensively, offensively, and he delivered as a leader with his energy. Kevarrius is a high energy guy that when playing well his teammates can feed off of that energy, which is what happened Wednesday night. Keyontae Johnson and Isaiah Stokes were able to feed off of the high energy as all three bigs were able to post memorable nights against LaSalle. K. Johnson had a career high 12 points and Stokes posted a career high 9 points.
“We had a good run, a good jump, everybody was playing hard, playing together. I think as long as we share the ball and play hard on defense a lot of things will work out for us.” Said Hayes during the postgame press conference.
After the early second half run, the Gators were able to run away with this one, getting 14 players on the court and clinging to a 82-69 lead as time expired. For the third time this season the Gators have a different leading scorer, this game it’s Jalen Hudson who finished 15 points of 6/12 shooting, that was a season high in points for Hudson. Some other players played well enough to earn season highs and career highs as well, including freshman guard Andrew Nembhard who dished out 7 assists.
But the player of the game without a doubt has to be Kevarrius Hayes, who posted a season high 12 points to go with six rebounds. He was an anchor down low defensively, but what was most valuable was his high energy all game. “He cares about winning as much as anyone on our team. He’s as prepared and competitive in practice as anyone on our team everyday. We know what we’re getting out of Kevarrius everyday from an effort standpoint, he works his butt off. For him to have a good game individually, it’s nice to see and hopefully it’s a good example to his teammates as well.” Said head Coach Mike White after his team improved 2-1 on the season.
Hayes – 12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block
Nembhard – 4 points, 7 assists, 3 steals
Hudson – 15 points, 3 rebounds
Allen – 8 points, 8/8 free throw shooting
K. Johnson – 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
C. Johnson – 6 points, 3 rebounds
Stokes – 9 points, 2 assists
Ballard – 6 points
Kimbrough 5 points, 8 rebounds
Powell – 21 points, 3 turnovers
Beatty – 13 points, 4 turnovers
Deas – 10 points, 5 turnovers