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Monday, May 20, 2024

Gators put talents on display in dominating win against Grambling State

Will Richard led the Gators with 17 points while shooting 5-9 from the 3-point line

Florida graduate student forward Tyrese Samuel dunks the ball in the Gators' 77-57 home win over the Merrimack Warriors on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.
Florida graduate student forward Tyrese Samuel dunks the ball in the Gators' 77-57 home win over the Merrimack Warriors on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team’s dominating performance Friday afternoon allowed the walk-ons that don the Orange and Blue to have their shining moment. 

From the leading scorer in the game to the last man on the bench, Florida’s complete team performance showed the potential of Todd Golden’s squad when Southeastern Conference competition begins Jan. 6. 

The Gators (8-3) dominated the Grambling State Tigers (2-9) 96-57 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Friday, improving their win streak to five games and their longest since 2021.

Junior guard Will Richard opened the game with a mid-range jump shot that hit nothing but net.

The sides traded misses before Grambling State forward Jalen Johnson drove to the basket and scored a layup to tie the score.

Graduate student Tyrese Samuel had sophomore Micah Handlogten involved early on the offensive end, as Samuel dished out back-to-back assists to the 7-foot-1 center to give UF a 6-2 lead.

The Tigers responded with a layup made by guard Antwun Burnett to keep the score competitive early. 

Then, Florida went on a 7-0 run that was capped off by a strong dunk by Samuel from a lob thrown by graduate student Zyon Pullin on a fast break to give Florida a 13-4 advantage.

Following a timeout, the Gators continued to look like the more dominant team. Sophomore guard Denzel Aberdeen finished an impressive reverse layup on a fast break to extend their lead to 15-4.

Junior guard Walter Clayton Jr. sank a 3-pointer for his first field goal of the game that freshman Alex Condon assisted to give the Gators a 12-point lead.

However, Grambling State refused to go down without a fight, cutting the lead to just four at 21-17 following a three-pointer by Terrance Lewis.

Florida responded with a 12-0 run. Freshman forward Thomas Haugh added his name to the box score after finishing a layup down low.

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A baseline jumper by Burnett ended the Gators' run and cut the score to 33-19. Samuel was quick to answer for UF as he slammed a dunk on the following possession.

With 2:05 left in the first half, Aberdeen showed off his athleticism as he took flight for a dunk, giving the Gators a 41-21 lead.

Samuel closed out the first half for Florida on offense, showing off his versatility, draining a three to give UF a 44-27 lead at half.

Samuel wasted no time carrying his momentum into the second half and opened up the scoring for the Gators with a dunk at the 19:31 mark.

Richard had the hot shooting hand for Florida in the second half. He drained three 3-pointers in a row and caught fire to extend the Gators lead to 59-36 with 15:16 left on the game clock.

The Tigers traded baskets with the Gators to keep their heads above water until a fast break layup by Pullin broke the game open at 75-45 with 9:34 left to play. 

Florida saw their lead grow to 34 as they continued to put its foot on the gas.

Samuel scored a scooping layup off of a nice dish by freshman guard Kajus Kublickas at the 7:11 mark to give Florida a substantial 79-34 advantage. 

With the game securely in UF’s hands, there were chants from the crowd who were anxiously waiting for the walk-ons to get playing time. With one minute left in the game, head coach Todd Golden cleared his bench to ensure that his entire roster recorded playing time in Friday’s affair.

Senior guard Bennett Anderson scored his first-ever points as a Florida Gator. Anderson made a baseline cut to the basket as Kublickas found him with a bounce pass for a reverse layup to cap off a 96-57 victory for the Gators.

UF will remain at home to continue its non-conference schedule. The Gators will host the Quinnipiac Bobcats Dec. 31 at 1 p.m, and the squad will look to extend its win streak to six games.

Contact Max at Follow him on Twitter @MaxTuckerUF25.

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Max Tucker

Max Tucker is a junior transfer student at UF. After obtaining his A.A. in Journalism from Santa Fe College in 2023, he chose further his education at Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. Max is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a specialization in sports and media. He enjoys golfing and going to the beach with his friends in his free time. Max will be covering the Gators Golf teams this Fall for The Alligator.

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