Florida freshman guard Andrew Nembhard had as much confidence on Saturday as a lion when it spots its next meal.
He stood just inside the three-point arc on the left side of the court, staying low as if he were baiting his opponent to come closer. Alabama forward Donta Hall didn’t fall for the trap, so Nembhard did the next best thing: shoot from deep.
The shot fell right through, giving the Gators men’s basketball team its first points of the game.
He wasn’t done there. Nembhard powered the offense in Florida’s 71-53 win over Alabama on Saturday, dropping 21 points on a perfect 9-for-9 shooting.
It was UF’s third 20-point performance of the season.
The freshman guard played his most efficient game of the season, and it was one where he showed off his ability to finish at the rim.
Like the play that came at the beginning of the game when Florida was leading 2-0. Nembhard intercepted a bounce pass from guard Dazon Ingram and led the offense on the fastbreak. Instead of pulling back and taking a three like the Gators have done all season, he kept driving and attacked the basket for an easy layup.
He took smart, good-quality shots. He shot from deep when he needed to, but he mostly worked the ball inside, something Florida has been lacking.
Nembhard may have played great, but he had a great supporting cast around him. Freshman forward Keyontae Johnson dropped a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, three of which came off the offensive end.
Senior guard KeVaughn Allen notched 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, collected three assists and stole the ball once.
Senior center Kevarrius Hayes tacked on nine points of his own on 3-of-4 shooting and recorded a block and a steal.
Their numbers tell the story as to why Florida (14-11, 6-6 SEC) beat Alabama (15-10, 6-6 SEC) comfortably.
The Gators held the Crimson Tide to just two points — free throws — in the first 7:45 of the game. Meanwhile, UF scored 12 points thanks to three buckets from Nembhard. It never trailed in the game and always had around a 10-point lead. Florida outrebounded Alabama 31-23.
It was a different kind of win for the Gators. It presented them with a good-quality win for their NCAA Tournament resume.
Florida also relied less on the three-ball. It shot 19 times from deep, below its season average of 25.4 attempts.
It’s a step in the right direction for the Gators, who have won two in a row by a comfortable margin as they look to make it to the NCAA tourney.
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at email@example.com.
Freshman guard Andrew Nembhard scored a team-high 21 points on 9-of-9 shooting in Florida’s 71-53 win over Alabama on Saturday.