Charleston, SC– The Florida Gators men’s basketball team defeated the Saint Joseph’s Hawks 70-62 at the Charleston Classic on Thursday afternoon. This is the third straight holiday tournament the Gators have played in.
Florida improved to 3-2 on the season while the Hawks fell to 2-3.
Florida found their stride early, as they went 7 of 16 from the three-point line in the first half. Keyontae Johnson and Andrew Nembhard led the Gators with 12 points at the break as Florida was up 41-25 at halftime.
Early in the second half, Kerry Blackshear, Jr was ejected on a Flagrant 2 foul call on a play in which he elbowed Taylor Funk from Saint Joseph’s.
Blackshear was ineffective for the Gators during the game though sitting on the bench for all but three minutes in the opening half of play due to foul trouble. He only accumulated one point and two rebounds in the game.
Keyontae Johnson took hold of the team and led the Gators with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The sophomore also hauled in 13 rebounds for Florida.
Coming out in the first half, Noah Locke got the scoring started for the Gators with an early three-pointer. Florida scored the first eight points of the game. When the Gators are consistently scoring, they are a tough team to stop.
Saint Joseph’s got within two points late in the second half but couldn’t take the lead and get the win.
Sophomore Andrew Nembhard played a pivotal role in Florida’s win on Thursday. He scored 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting. The Gators ended the game on a 6-0 run after Saint Joseph’s mounted a huge run after Blackshear’s ejection.
As a team, Florida shot 42.9 percent from the field on Thursday.
Opening the a Charleston Classic with a win gives the Gators a huge momentum boost.
They will stay in Charleston for the next few days as they have two games remaining in the tournament.
Florida will play Miami at noon on Friday in the semifinal round. This may have been a slight marginal win, but Florida got a much-needed win as the team is still trying to find its identity early in the season.
A win on Friday against Miami would give the Gators a huge boost for the remainder of the tournament and the season. They just have to play consistent basketball for 40 minutes.