After a sluggish start in an ugly win against Army on Wednesday, the Gators woke up Thursday night against Boston College, grounding the Eagles 90-70.
Florida looked like a completely different team against the Eagles in its second game of the year at the Roman Legends Classic in Bubbleville. The Gators struggled mightily out of the gate against Army Wednesday, falling behind by as much as 11. They made sure to start quickly against the Eagles, jumping out to a 22-11 lead midway through the first half. UF took a 20-point lead into the locker room and never looked back, stretching the lead to as much as 31 points in the second half. The team trailed just twice, the last time coming just three minutes into the contest.
The Gators were a much more complete team Thursday night. After shooting just 26.7% from beyond the arc against Army, it knocked down 41.2% of its shots from deep against the Eagles. The Gators woke up defensively as well, closing out on shooters and forcing BC to shoot just about 42% for the game and 33% from deep. They were much more physical Thursday also, out rebounding BC 35-30 after Army beat them on the boards the night before.
The difference in ball movement from Wednesday to Thursday was night and day. The Gators had 10 total assists against Army, but they had 10 assists in the first half alone against the Eagles.
Florida’s 90-point performance was the most it’s scored since a double overtime battle with Alabama on Jan. 4 of last year and the most against an ACC opponent since 1999.
“We were more in character in searching for the right shot, we executed for each other at a higher level, and played better on defense,” Gators coach Mike White said after the game.
Individually, preseason SEC Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson led the way for UF. After a relatively quiet game against the Black Knights Wednesday, the junior forward showed up and showed out against the Eagles, scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He added 12 rebounds Thursday after grabbing just three on Wednesday.
Florida also got a lot of production from point guard Tre Mann. The sophomore starter dropped 17 points and had a career-high six assists after scoring a career-high 19 points against Army the previous night. Mann showed flashes last season coming off the bench in relief of former-Gators guard Andrew Nembhard and has shown progress so far this season.
Mann is still “scratching the surface,” and has a high ceiling, White said.
UF had five players in double digits Thursday: Johnson, Mann, sophomore guard Scottie Lewis (14), junior guard Noah Locke (12) and sophomore forward Omar Payne (10).
The announcers for Florida’s Wednesday game chalked up the Gators’ sleepwalking to rust accumulated in the long offseason. Well, the rust is shaken off, and the Gators look ready to compete in a wide-open SEC.
They will return to Gainesville for their home opener against Stetson on Sunday
Contact Michael Hull at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33.
Michael Hull is a third-year journalism major with a specialization in sports & media. He has a minor in business and leadership and is a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars fan.