Egor Koulechov

UF guard Egor Koulechov scored a game-high 34 points in Monday's 116-74 win against Gardner-Webb in the O'Connell Center.

Alan Alvarez / Alligator Staff

Egor Koulechov was a scorer during his two seasons at Rice. So when he announced he was transferring to UF for graduate school, most thought he could bring that with him.

His abilities were on full display while he was at Rice. In his junior campaign with the Owls, Koulechov was second on the team with 18.2 points a game and scored double-digit figures in 32 of 35 games.

However, one of the biggest questions surrounding him was if he can still produce while playing in a better conference with a new team.

If Florida’s season opener on Monday was any indication, Koulechov will fit in just fine.

In fact, he’s doing a lot more than just fitting in. He’s thriving.

Koulechov started his career as a Gator with a game-high 34 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including six baskets from beyond the arc. He helped Florida break the game open late in the first half by making three three-pointers in just over two minutes.

Koulechov said the Gators have a system where they like to feed the ball to whoever is in a rhythm.

“Today, it was me,” Koulechov said.

His performance tied for the most points in a UF debut since Tom Baxley in 1962. It was also the most points he has scored since he put up 35 against Incarnate Word while with Rice on Nov. 26 of last season.

His performance, however, shows one thing: The Gators need to get the ball in his hands as often as possible.

While his three-point game was strong against Gardner-Webb, his play inside the paint and from mid-range showed his offensive prowess. He can even draw fouls, reaching the line for six shots and making all of them. Koulechov has proven he can be the team’s top scorer.

But what makes his play so important to the team, coach Mike White said, is that it adds to the Gators’ offensive depth. When Koulechov doesn’t score, players like KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson, and even freshmen Mike Okauru and Deaundrae Ballard can still pick up points.

Koulechov’s huge night is a good indication of what’s to come, even if it’s too early to see how he’ll stack up against tougher SEC opponents. And if he continues leading the offense, Florida will be in good hands this season.

You can follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake, and contact him at [email protected].

Jake Dreilinger is the online sports editor of the Alligator and covers the University of Florida men's basketball team. He has previously covered baseball, lacrosse, men's and women's golf and women's tennis. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2015.