Kentucky guard Quade Green put up a shot while double-covered that bounced off the front of the rim and was tipped towards the baseline. UF guard Egor Koulechov ran after it, hovering out-of-bounds to save the ball, and tossed it back in play.
Chris Chiozza collected the ball just shy of halfcourt and speed to the basket on a two-on-one situation. When he got closer, he drew the defender toward him before lobbing a pass over the guard Jalen Hudson, who slammed it into the net to complete the alley-oop early in the second half.
Hudson’s day was full of dynamic plays, and his 22 points led the Florida men’s basketball team to an 80-67 win against Kentucky on Saturday at the O’Connell Center.
“He’s taking better shots, been very aggressive offensively,” UF coach Mike White said. ‘Not overthinking quite as much.”
With 9:20 left in the first half, Hudson received a pass from the top-right side of the three-point line and raced through an open gap. Once he reached the basket, he slammed down a dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Hudson finished the day shooting 8 of 15 from the field and 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.
“We wanted to play really hard and finish strong,” Hudson said. “I believe we can beat anyone in the country, and we have shown that.”
Allen’s all-around performance
UF guard KeVaughn Allen normally keeps to himself. He’s void of emotion when he hits buzzer-beating shots, and it takes a ton of effort to get him to say anything at media opportunities.
On Saturday, however, he was all smiles after the game. He was cracking jokes with forward Keith Stone and imitating reporters holding a microphone while asking questions to each other.
After the performance he had against Kentucky, it’s easy to see why he was celebrating.
While he only put up nine points, the guard collected a team-leading seven rebounds and recorded a career-high seven assists.
“I told him after the game that he didn’t need to get 25,” White said. “But he was just as aggressive as he’s been.”
While Allen struggled to get going early in the game, a pair of late three-pointer propelled Florida into halftime leading by 15.
One of those threes came right before the buzzer, when he shot it from the right corner to put the Gators ahead 48-33.
When he wasn’t scoring, he was finding others that could. Allen found multiple players in the paint, allowing Florida to score 30 paint points throughout the game.
Senior Day for Chiozza and Koulechov
The O’Connell Center was waiting for it. The players on the bench were waiting for it. UF guards Chris Chiozza and Egor Koulechov were waiting for it.
After Chiozza made two free throws with 59 seconds left, it was time.
With the blow of a whistle and center Kevarrius Hayes and guard Mike Okauru walking onto the court, the home crowd lept to its feet and began cheering. Chiozza and Koulechov began walking to the bench, taking in the moment as it would be the last time either of them would step on the court as a Gator.
First was Koulechov. As Stone went to greet him, White began pumping up the crowd to give Koulechov a standing ovation. When the graduate transfer reached his coach, they embraced for five seconds before Koulechov continued down the bench.
He finished with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
“It was awesome and more than I expected,” Koulechov said of senior day. “The tribute and the fans were amazing.”
After Chiozza made his final free throw, it was his turn to be applauded. Walking to the bench, Chiozza gave two Gator chomps before meeting White, who hugged him and whispered words of encouragement in his ear.
He finished with nine points, four assists and three rebounds.
“It hit me when I walked out before the game,” Chiozza said. “Once I got on the court, it was like another game, just go out there and play hard.”