Forward Anthony Duruji insisted the show must go on. The senior strode down the court and delivered a 360-degree dunk, slamming an exclamation point on Florida’s second straight triumph.
The Florida Gators men’s basketball team (9-3) defended the Stephen C. O’Connell Center with an empathic 87-62 win over the Stony Brook Seawolves (7-5) Wednesday. Four Gators finished the game with double-figures.
UF guard Tyree Appleby stripped the ball from Stony Brooks Jahlil Jenkins to aid guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. with an apple. The Georgia native sunk the ball into the net, pushing Florida’s lead to 8-0. Fleming led the team with 20 points, 14 of which came in the first half.
Fleming said the squad set out to apply pressure in the paint.
“I think we’ve got a lot of different playmakers, a lot of different scorers and a lot of different guys that can pass the ball. I just got into that,” Fleming said.
Gators head coach Mike White rotated players off the bench early, including freshman guard Kowacie Reeves. Reeves stepped up big to replace guard Myreon Jones, who was sidelined due to health and safety protocols.
With a shot and a prayer, Reeves recorded the first 3-pointer of the game for the orange and blue to get the ball rolling early.
The clock wound down to end the opening frame, and the home team trekked to the locker room at the half with a 21-point lead.
“Our focus was really good over the last three days,” White said. “I would have been surprised if we didn’t play well in the first half.”
Early in the second half, Jenkins ran from end to end before leaping in the air to secure a basket, decreasing Florida's lead to 18. The Virginia native and his teammate Juan Felix Rodriguez finished the game with 14 points each.
Two quick passes allowed Jason Jitoboh to confidently dunk the basketball into the net, keeping Stony Brook firmly under Florida’s foot. Jitoboh boasted a career-high 12 points. The junior said he’s felt more comfortable in his role on the team.
“Coach and the staff have been preaching inner confidence in me, telling me that I’m way better than I think,” Jitoboh said.
Jenkins secured a 3-pointer from outside the arc with under a minute remaining, but it wasn’t enough as the Gators sprinted away with a 25-point victory.
White’s squad finished non-conference play with back-to-back wins.
Florida opens up conference play versus Ole Miss Dec. 29 in Oxford, Mississippi. Tip off is set for 5 p.m. and can be streamed on SEC Network.
Contact Karina Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @kk_rinaa.
Karina Wilson is a second-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications with a specialization in sports and media. She aims to produce engaging, accurate and current content for all types of sports fans. Currently, Karina is The Alligator's lacrosse beat writer.