Chris Chiozza signaled for his teammates to move away from the right side of the court with the game tied at 60.
Then, after slowly backing his way into the post, the 6-foot senior spun past Cincinnati guard Cane Broome and charged toward the basket, floating the ball through the net to give the Gators a two-point lead.
A combination of scoring from Chiozza and teammates Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulechov helped the No. 5 Gators (6-3) end their three-game losing streak on Saturday night with a 66-60 win over No. 17 Cincinnati (7-2) at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Koulechov outpaced every player on the day offensively, scoring a game-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds. The guard drove inside and found open mid-range shots off the dribble. It was a promising sign for the Gators, as he’d combined for just 18 points on 7-of-26 shooting over his past two games.
Hudson also played well after struggling in Florida’s previous contest — a six-point loss to Loyola-Chicago — scoring 17 points and burying three triples against the Bearcats.
Along with 15 points from Chiozza, the trio of starting guards accounted for 53 of the Gators’ 66 points.
Cincinnati jumped out to an early lead in the first half, outscoring UF 10-4 in the opening four minutes of play.
Following the game’s first media timeout, Florida bounced back with a 20-6 run of its own led by nine points from Hudson to take a 24-16 lead over Cincinnati.
The Bearcats refused to lie down, storming back to tie it at 24-24. Both teams traded a few more buckets, with Florida heading into halftime leading 34-28.
The Gators found their three-point shooting stroke in the first half, knocking down four of seven jumpers from behind the arc.
That wasn’t the case in the second frame, however. Florida hit just two of eight three-point attempts, but still found ways to score from mid-range and inside the paint.
The end of the game was a free-throw fest, with both teams trading the lead back and forth. After Broome hit two shots at the charity stripe to put the Bearcats up 59-58, Florida center Kevarrius Hayes did the same at the other end of the court.
Cincinnati forward Gary Clark then made another at the line, which led to Chiozza’s runner in the lane that put Florida up for good.
Chiozza took two more free throws and made a fast break layup in the game’s final 20 seconds, putting the contest out of reach and giving UF coach Mike White his sixth career win over an AP top-25 team.
The Gators receive a week of rest before heading to Sunrise, Florida, to battle the Clemson Tigers next Saturday at 4:30 p.m.