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Saturday, May 18, 2024

A perfect storm: Gators hang a hundred on Rattlers

Florida shot 62.1% form the field and 59.1% from deep

Florida guard Trey Bonham loads up for a shot against Stony Brook Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. Bonham lead the Gators in scoring with 23 points against Florida A&M Wednesday, including seven 3-pointers.
Florida guard Trey Bonham loads up for a shot against Stony Brook Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. Bonham lead the Gators in scoring with 23 points against Florida A&M Wednesday, including seven 3-pointers.

Junior guard Trey Bonham brought the rain. Sophomore forward Alex Fudge brought the thunder. 

The Gators (5-3) rebounded from a rocky trip to Portland, Oregon, with their biggest win of the season over the Florida A&M Rattlers (1-5) Wednesday night, 102-62. A perfect 3-point shooting performance and a team-high 23 points from Bonham helped UF cruise to victory. 

“That fire coming off the last game in Portland led to this game,” Bonham said.

Florida sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves, who didn’t play during the Gators’ matchup with West Virginia and only logged eight minutes against Oregon State, was back in the starting lineup Wednesday night. 

Reeves dominated the early minutes of the game. He shot 4-5 from the field and was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc, scoring 11 points in the first eight minutes and 23 seconds of the game. 

“I hope [the early success] allows [Reeves] to continue to build confidence,” UF head coach Todd Golden said. 

Florida led 25-12 at a media timeout with 10:25 to play in the first half. 

The Gators kept their foot on the gas, including back-to-back buckets from guard Niels Lane. A 3-pointer from Bonham — UF’s sixth of the game — extended Florida’s advantage, 36-19. 

Florida A&M responded with a four-point burst, but it was all the Rattlers could muster. Reeves hit a driving layup for his 12th and 13th points. Fifth-year forward Colin Castleton contributed a block to force a FAMU shot-clock violation. Bonham hit his third triple. 

The Rattlers hit a dry spell of more than two and a half minutes until junior guard Byron Smith stopped the drought with a jumper. Still, Florida led 41-25.

Reeves continued his dominant half with a baseline jam, assisted by Castleton. On UF’s ensuing possession, senior center Jason Jitoboh, who played significant minutes alongside Castleton before halftime, sustained the pressure down low with a contested finish. 

The Gators got all they wanted in the first half, including a buzzer-beating step-back triple from Bonham. The junior’s splash at the horn — his fifth on five attempts — grew UF’s lead to 19 points at halftime, 50-31. 

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Florida shot the ball with a newfound efficiency through the opening 20 minutes; the Gators were 20-29 from the field. UF, with eight in the half, connected on four times as many triples as it did in its whole game against West Virginia.

Bonham continued to do it all for Florida in the opening minutes of the second half. The Virginia Military Institute transfer knocked down two more 3-pointers, continuing his perfect night. Two possessions later he delivered a nifty assist to a cutting Alex Fudge, who threw down a dunk. 

The Rattlers went on another cold streak, this time four minutes long, and Florida kept following defensive stops with baskets on the other end. Seven Gators got in on the scoring by the 10:24 mark in the second half. Florida outscored Florida A&M 25-9 in that same span, and UF led by a dominant 35 points, 75-40. 

The game began to slow down as both teams traded free throws and made defensive stops. However, Fudge got the energy up inside the O’Dome with a pair of high-flying slams. The first came on a drive right down the lane, and the second on a perfectly placed lob from freshman guard Riley Kugel. 

Graduate student guard Myreon Jones also hit just his second 3-pointer of the season between the ferocious dunks. The Gators didn’t let up down the stretch. 

Fudge continued to remain active on both ends of the court, leading to his first career double-double. The Louisiana State transfer ended the night with 16 points and 10 rebounds. 

Jones’ second 3-pointer bookended a 14-point UF scoring run. The burst contributed to the Gators nearly doubling the Rattlers score, 98-51, by the time Golden emptied his bench. 

UF was without guards Kyle Lofton and Will Richard due to injury. The ability of his deep rotation to step up and play extended minutes at a moments notice was something Golden highlighted about his team’s performance.

Florida returns to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Sunday afternoon against the Stetson Hatters. The game is set for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network. 

Contact Joseph Henry at Follow him on Twitter @Josephhenry2424.

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Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry is a fourth-year sports journalism major and is the Alligator's sports editor. He previously worked as senior news director, assistant sports editor, men's basketball beat reporter, volleyball beat reporter and golf beat reporter. He enjoys sitting down to watch a movie as often as possible, collecting vinyl and drinking Dr. Pepper. 

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