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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Chris Chiozza has always been a consistent passer. On Saturday, he showed just how far his shooting can take him

<p>Chris Chiozza is averaging an SEC-best 6.1 assists per game, but he showed off his scoring ability against Baylor on Saturday. <span id="docs-internal-guid-aad45962-40af-58e3-26d5-fa6ac9ad3f5c"><span>“When he’s scoring on top of his facilitating, then he just goes to another level,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.</span></span></p>

Chris Chiozza is averaging an SEC-best 6.1 assists per game, but he showed off his scoring ability against Baylor on Saturday. “When he’s scoring on top of his facilitating, then he just goes to another level,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Chris Chiozza dribbled to the top of the key and made a deep jump shot over Baylor's Manu Lecomte, opening Florida' scoring against the Bears on Saturday. On the ensuing possession, Chiozza stole the ball from forward Tristan Clark, sprinted down the court and found teammate Egor Koulechov for a three-pointer in transition.

On the No. 20 Gators' first two possessions of an 81-60 win over Baylor (12-9, 2-6 Big 12) on Saturday at the O’Connell Center, Chiozza’s early basket, steal and assist foreshadowed the kind of night he would have. One that included 20 points, six assists and two steals.

“I’m not surprised by anything (Chiozza does) anymore,” Koulechov said.

It’s hard to be surprised by the performances and moments Chiozza churns out each night. On Saturday, he scored 13 consecutive points for the Gators (15-6, 6-2 SEC) off three three-pointers, a pair of free throws and a jump shot to put UF up 15 with 4:52 left in the first half.

Against Missouri on Jan. 6, Chiozza intercepted a pass with four seconds left in the contest and made a game-winning layup. And against Gonzaga on Nov. 24, he played a season-high 46 minutes while dropping 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

“We need Chris to continue being aggressive like that,” Florida coach Mike White said.

Chiozza’s play isn’t anything new for the Gators. The senior has scored double-digit points in 15 of 21 games this season. He also leads the conference in assists per game (6.1) and is second in steals per game (1.9).

Chiozza’s contributions to the Gators forced Baylor coach Scott Drew to create a game plan centered around limiting the senior guard's offensive output.

“We tried to take away his passing, and he got us with his scoring,” Drew said. “That’s where great players can do more than one thing and hurt you in more than one way.”

While his passing ability has been consistent during his time at Florida — he led the Gators in assists in the 2015-16 season and finished second every other year behind Kasey Hill — Chiozza’s shooting has significantly improved in his last season as a Gator.

Against Baylor, he showed that he is a threat regardless of what type of game he plays, whether it’s getting assists or baskets.

“Great players, you can pick and choose,” Drew said. “He’s one of the best point guards in the country and everyone will agree on that, but when he’s scoring on top of his facilitating, then he just goes to another level.”

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Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

Chris Chiozza is averaging an SEC-best 6.1 assists per game, but he showed off his scoring ability against Baylor on Saturday. “When he’s scoring on top of his facilitating, then he just goes to another level,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

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