FINAL: FLORIDA 77, FGCU 56
Sunrise, FL- Florida guard Jalen Hudson sank a three pointer with just under twelve minutes to play in the opening half to snap a streak of three games without a made trey. Hudson would go on to score 14 points and helped lead the Gators past Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic.
The win pushes the Gators record to 7-4 while the Eagles fell to 5-9 under first year head coach, Michael Fly.
Florida held a 14-8 advantage prior to Hudson’s three pointer, which forced an FGCU timeout. Hudson completed the bookend baskets with another shot from deep to extend the lead to 20-8 before the midway mark of the first half.
At the under-four timeout, the Gators held a slim 26-22 lead, but freshman Keyontae Johnson made a jumper which was followed by Kevarrius Hayes laying in a basket. The Gators continued the run by forcing a pair of turnovers which led to a KeVaughn Allen layup. Allen also hit a three before the intermission break and the Gators entered the locker room with a 37-26 lead.
Florida opened the second half on a 12-1 run which was highlighted by a Noah Locke three and a Johnson dunk, which forced an Eagles timeout. The only point that FGCU managed during that stretch was a made free throw by Troy Baxter, Jr after UF head coach Mike White received a technical with 17:51 to play in regulation.
- Freshman guard Noah Locke led the team in scoring with 15 points, while shooting 5-9 from the field (all from beyond the three point line).
- Senior guard Jalen Hudson was prominent for the first time in a while, finishing with 14 points off the bench. Hudson also grabbed six boards in 23 minutes of play and was named the Orange Bowl Classic MVP. Photo via AP Images
- Senior Kevarrius Hayes finished with 12 points and 7 boards while making all five attempts from the field.
- Sophomore guard Deaundrae Ballard added 11 points in 14 minutes off the bench.
- The Gators were outrebounded by FGCU 34-32.
- Florida shot 10-14 from the free throw line for a 71% mark. Junior Keith Stone finished 3-3 from the charity stripe.
The Gators will face Butler in Exactech Arena on Saturday December 29. The Bulldogs topped Florida in the fifth-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament over Thanksgiving. Butler is now 9-3 on the season.