With 40 seconds remaining in the game, Florida sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves missed a long-ranged triple from the top of the key. The shot meant nothing.
Senior center Jason Jitoboh grabbed the rebound and scored a second-chance layup to extend the Gators’ massive lead. In the final moments of the game, people in attendance stood as redshirt junior guard Alex Klatsky walked to the scorers table.
The Gators (7-4) routed the Ohio Bobcats (5-5) on their way to a 82-48 victory Wednesday in the Victorinox Tampa Tip-Off. UF shot with 52% efficiency, while the Bobcats only made 31% of their shots.
After a few missed opportunities by both squads, fifth-year forward Colin Castleton got things started for the Gators. He connected on a basket from right in front of the rim after a minute and a half of scoreless basketball.
The forward’s shot kicked off a Florida offensive run. The Gators made four straight field goals until Ohio graduate student forward Dwight Wilson III stopped the Bobcats bleeding. UF was up 9-4 through almost four minutes of play.
Graduate student guard Kyle Lofton, who came off the bench against Connecticut, was an immediate impact for Florida in the first half. He led the UF with 12 points in the first half and directed the offense with three assists.
The Gators, playing high-pressure man-to-man defense in the first half, kept Ohio from converting a field goal over a stretch of four minutes midway through the first half. A goaltending call against Florida on a Wilson layup ended the defensive streak with 10:36 remaining in the first half, UF was up 16-10.
Florida struggled to score in the paint against the Bobcats' bigs early in the game. However, the Gators dominated on the other end of the court.
The charity stripe aided Florida and helped produce points while it failed to connect on field goals in the middle of the first half.
A Lofton free throw — the Gators’ sixth of its 14 makes from the line in the first half — extended UF’s lead to 21-10 near the eight minute mark.
After a media timeout, Reeves got involved with a corner three, adding on to a 12-0 UF scoring run.
Reeves made a layup after Ohio senior guard Devon Baker missed a jumper. He hit five points in 30 seconds, and Ohio head coach Jeff Boals called a timeout.
A 3-pointer by Reeves extended Florida’s lead to 24 points going into halftime. The Gators led 42-18, with Ohio making only two of its last 12 shots to end the half.
Wilson — the Bobcats leading scorer this season — finished the first half with 10 points. Ohio guards junior Jaylin Hunter and freshman AJ Brown produced four points each in the first half.
Ohio’s struggles from the first half found their way into the second half. After two minutes, senior guard Miles Brown converted a free throw for the Bobcats after a four-point run by UF.
Following a few scoring exchanges between the Gators and Bobcats, Florida went on a five-point run. It started with a mid-range jumper by Reeves. Fudge used his seven-foot wingspan to pin an Ohio layup to the backboard and give Reeves the opportunity to knock down a three on the other end.
The Gators, up 56-24 with 14 minutes left in the game, thrived defensively down the stretch. They blocked shots and locked down the perimeter. The Bobcats finished the game 3-14 behind the arc.
Florida’s reserves ended the game for the Gators on a high note, and the bench contributed 33 points. Reeves finished with 20 points on 7-11 shooting, a point shy of his career-high.
UF led the entire game, and finished its night in Tampa with a 82-48 victory.
The Gators will be back in action in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Jumpman Invitational against the Oklahoma Sooners. The game will be broadcast at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2.
Contact Brandon Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.
Brandon Hernandez is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is a writer for The Alligator, Gator Country and for PlugTalkSports. You can find most of his work on his Twitter (BranH2001) and on his podcast, “The Courtside Podcast,” on Spotify.