Mike Okauru ran his defender directly into Dontay Bassett’s pick, a screen play that would make Steven Spielberg jealous.
The Gators didn’t make the cut for the AP preseason top 25 poll. But that isn’t a reason for…
Bassett rolled toward the basket, and Okauru sliced the ball through two defenders to the big man for an emphatic jam.
The pair executed the exact same pick-and-roll sequence one possession later and worked it to the same degree of success.
The plays were a microcosm of the Florida Gators’ 95-70 win over the Florida Southern Moccasins last night.
Defense was at a premium during the contest, and coach Mike White agreed.
“We were exposed by Florida Southern in several different areas,” White said. “(Defense) wasn’t very good.”
The opposition was weak. Florida Southern has a 42-48 record over its last three seasons. But the Gators led a balanced attack against Florida Southern, with several players stepping up to shoulder the burden of production.
One such player was freshman forward Keyontae Johnson. It’s clear that if the Norfolk, Virginia, product can stay healthy, he’s going to be a mismatch for any team regardless of size.
He was active on the court, going 5-for-7 with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard also looked smooth in the half-court offense and had great vision.
“He has a high-level understanding of the game,” White said.
He struggled shooting the ball, going 2-for-7 with four points, but dealt four assists.
Senior transfer guard Jalen Hudson routinely looked like the best player on the court, making difficult shots seem easy. One knock on Hudson — and several other Florida veterans — was shot selection. Hudson went 4-for-10 (3-for-6 from three) and 14 points, but many of his shots were unnecessarily difficult.
The same goes for senior guard KeVaughn Allen. White has harped on Allen’s lack of aggression in the past. Last night he forced some shots that could have been passed out.
A few other things UF could improve is not allowing the backdoor cut on defense and not biting on pump fakes. More than once, the Mocs got loose on the baseline or got a defender in the air for easy shots.
The Gators saw many of the same issues they saw last season. When the offensive tempo slows down, the team has trouble scoring.
This and That
Junior forward Keith Stone led the team with 10 rebounds. Junior center Gorjok Gak didn’t play; according to White’s press conference last Thursday, he’s still rehabbing an injury.
Not usually thought of as a sharpshooter, Bassett went 2-for-2 from three in the contest. Conversely, Locke is known as one of the better shooters on the team and went 3-for-4 from three in the second half.
Redshirt freshman forward Isaiah Stokes has lost a ton of weight from last year and brings an element to Florida’s game that it hasn’t seen in a while — a big man that plays with legitimate post moves.
At one point, Stokes received the ball near the left baseline. He faked right, turned 180 degrees left and drilled a fadeaway jumper that rivaled Dirk Nowitzki’s.
“He’s got more moves than that one,” Johnson said of Stokes.
He netted six points on 3-of-6 shooting.
Florida opens its regular season with a big test Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. against Florida State. The Gators haven’t beaten FSU since 2013.
Defensively, UF will need to improve if it is to beat the ’Noles in Tallahassee after allowing 70 points to the Mocs.
What exactly needs to get better? Okauru balked on the specifics and offered a more broad answer.
Follow Chris O'Brien on Twitter @THEChrisOB or contact him at [email protected].