Florida dominates 2nd half, beats Florida Gulf Coast 70-50
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Dorian Finney-Smith and John Egbunu showed they can carry Florida.
Now, coach Mike White would like his backcourt to do the same.
Finney-Smith scored a season-high 23 points, Egbunu notched his first double-double in nearly two years and the Gators beat Florida Gulf Coast 70-50 Friday night.
Egbunu finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, his best game since transferring from South Florida in the summer of 2014.
''Those guys were really good,'' White said. ''They played with a `we're not going to lose' mentality despite us having our struggles. ... Those guys overall were terrific offensively.''
White couldn't say the same about his guards. Kasey Hill, KeVaughn Allen, DeVon Walker and Chris Chiozza combined for 16 points on 6-of-29 shooting.
''Just struggling to shoot the basketball,'' White said. ''We all need to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out we can help, each guy on the roster and each guy on the staff. ... We've got to be in the gym more. We've got to figure it out. We've probably got to reevaluate how many 3s we're shooting and who's shooting them and where we're shooting them from.
''It's a process. I didn't see this coming and maybe we'll just snap out of it. I'm not sure.''
At least the Gators can count on Finney-Smith and Egbunu. They dominated the paint, using their size advantage to get easy baskets around the rim. Finney-Smith was 7-of-13 shooting, with four of his misses coming from 3-point range, and Egbunu was 7-of-14 from the floor.
The duo combined to score Florida's final 18 points in the first half, but the Gators trailed 33-32 at the break. They got some help after intermission, and Florida (5-1) started to pull away.
Florida opened the second half with a 22-5 run that turned a one-point deficit into a double-digit lead midway. The Eagles (3-3) couldn't get it back to single digits the rest of the way.
Finney-Smith and Egbunu scored 14 points in the second-half surge, giving the front-court tandem 32 of the team's 40 points during the middle 20 minutes of the game.
''The ball was falling for us tonight,'' Egbunu said.
Christian Terrell led Florida Gulf Coast with 9 points. Rayjon Tucker added 8, and Julian Debose chipped in 7. It was the first time this season that no Eagles player reached double figures.
''We didn't play scared in the first half and we went out and tried to attack them and hit them first,'' Terrell said. ''In the second half, they did a better job of hitting us first and taking our confidence down a little bit.''
FGCU set a season-low in points and field-goal percentage. The Eagles finished with 18 turnovers and nine assists.
Florida had 11 blocks, 11 steals and 26 points off turnovers.
''There were some simple plays where we just lost the ball and next thing you know they're out running,'' FGCU coach Joe Dooley said.
Florida Gulf Coast: Fell to 0-3 all-time against Florida. The previous meeting came in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, a Sweet 16 matchup the Gators won 62-50. ... FGCU's previous low point total this season was 73.
Florida: Egbunu's last double-double was a 20-point, 14-rebound performance against Memphis on Dec. 31, 2013. ... Improved to 90-19 all-time against teams currently in the Atlantic Sun. ... Longtime Florida assistant John Pelphrey served as analyst for the SEC Network broadcast. Pelphrey, who did not go with former coach Billy Donovan to the NBA and has a son in high school, is still getting paid by the Gators.
Florida Gulf Coast's leading scorer, Marc-Eddy Norelia, came into the game averaging 18.4 points and 11 rebounds. He finished with 6 points and 6 boards.
Florida Gulf Coast plays at Texas A&M on Wednesday.
Florida hosts Richmond on Tuesday.