The No. 5 UConn Huskies were on the prowl in Gainesville as they took down the Gators convincingly on Wednesday, 75-54.
The Gators got off to a slow start against the Huskies. After holding a 5-4 lead nearly four minutes into the matchup, Florida went down 16-6 as UConn reeled off a 12-1 run to take control of the game less than 10 minutes in.
Showcasing dominance on the defensive end that forced Florida into poor shots and limited the good looks the unit had as a whole in the first twenty minutes of action, UConn was able to hold onto the double-digit lead throughout the first half.
Florida's self-inflicted wounds — going 5-for-11 from the charity stripe, turning the ball over seven times while recording just three assists and getting pushed around on the interior — allowed UConn to maintain the margin despite a less-than-desired first-half offensive.
Backup center Donovan Clingan led the Huskies with 10 first-half points, using his 7-foot-2, 265-pound frame to push around Gators center Colin Castleton on the inside.
Florida entered the locker room trailing by 13 as a result.
In the second half, UF's intention on both ends of the court and intensity picked up drastically as they looked to chip into the Huskies' lead. On the first possession of the half, Alex Fudge picked up an early third foul to send Adama Sanogo to the line to open the scoring in the period.
The two unit's started to trade blows back and forth from that point, with Fudge and Castleton — who reached the 1,000-point milestone with his first basket of the game — serving as catalysts to the Gators' minimal offensive success. They each accounted for two buckets to lift the lid off the basket in the second half.
Fudge's two dunks added some energy for Florida to feed off and Kowacie Reeves Jr. added to the potential fire by knocking down a three to cut the lead to ten with just over 13 minutes remaining.
However, the brief moments of promise presented by the Gators came in vain as the Huskies continued to silence Florida by matching their offensive production on the other end. Guard Jordan Hawkins and Sanogo played heavy roles in fending off Florida from making a run in the second half with 15 and 17, respectively.
That catapulted the Huskies to a game-high 20-point lead with 6:34 remaining.
Florida finished the game shooting just 30.2% from the floor, 26.7% from three and 64.3% from the free throw line. Kugel and Fudge led the Gators in scoring (13) with Castleton (12) serving in a complementary role in their attempts to overcome the consistent two-way pressure applied by UConn.
Dan Hurley's squad proved to be too much for Todd Golden's to handle. The Huskies remain undefeated to begin the season, as a result.
An arguable exclamation point came when Andre Jackson Jr. emphatically rejected Kugel before Joey Calcaterra found Clingan on the alley-oop at the other end. Clingan added 16 points on the night.
Florida will have a week to recuperate before they head to Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 14 to take on the Ohio Bobcats.
Stay tuned to All Gators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @AllGatorsOnFN on Twitter and All Gators on FanNation-Sports Illustrated on Facebook.
Get your Gators football, basketball and other sporting events tickets from SI Tickets here.