Defense cost the Florida Gators in the opening game of the Phil Knight Legacy against Xavier. However, in the first game of the consolation tournament, the defense held up its end of the bargain and keyed a Black Friday blowout victory.
Florida (4-2) defeated Oregon State (3-3) 81-68 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. The Gators opened the game with a dominant 22-4 run and never looked back, closing out the Beavers and cruising to a comfortable win.
UF shot the ball well, especially junior guard Trey Bonham. After a breakout game against the Musketeers — dropping 23 points — the transfer from the Virginia Military Institute scored a team-high 19 against the Beavers.
Florida’s defense swarmed Oregon State, especially early in the game. Poor shooting from the Beavers resulted in a 13-2 run by the Gators, as fifth-year center Colin Castelton scored six early points.
OSU’s shooting woes continued through the first half as Florida pushed on to an 18-point lead with 11 minutes left in the half. The Beavers missed their first seven 3-point attempts of the game and turned the ball over four times.
After a timeout, Oregon State started to test the Gators with a pair of quick baskets. Florida found rhythm behind the arc, however, to keep its commanding lead. Bonham hit a pair of triples before graduate student Myreon Jones added another to push the Gators’ lead up to 22.
The Beavers finally began to close the gap as the first half wound down, going on a 16-6 run to close the half and cut Florida’s lead to 13.
Bonham led the way for the Gators in the first period with a team-high 13 points, shooting three of five from 3-point range. Castleton made his presence felt on both sides of the court with eight points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks — though he did pick up three fouls.
In the second half, it was more of the same for Florida.
The defense forced Oregon State into a poor shooting performance and the combination of Bonham and senior forward CJ Felder pushed the Gators’ lead back up to 20. Nursing a healthy lead, head coach Todd Golden leaned on his bench unit to produce in the second half, and it delivered.
Sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves took the ball from the corner and drove to the basket, finishing with an authoritative slam over OSU forward Tyler Bilodeau to punctuate a dominant performance from the entire Florida team.
With under 10 minutes to play, the Beavers swapped to a full court pressure and pushed UF more than they had all evening. Oregon State cut the lead as low as 11 points and challenged the Gators on both ends of the court.
Despite the late OSU run, the result never felt in doubt and the Gators secured a place in the fifth-place game on Sunday. Florida will face the winner between West Virginia and Portland State.
Contact Topher Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Topher_Adams.
Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.