Dominance, from start to finish.
Engaged in mid-Sunday action against the Stetson Hatters, the Florida Gators returned home from Bubbleville for the home opener of the 2020 season at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Producing an all-around performance that saw four of the five starters score double-digit points and limit a team that has averages 60 points on the season to just 40, Florida cruised on their way to 3-0.
It may have been against an inferior opponent, but the key takeaways from the outing reign as important factors to the unit's success in future contests.
Deep bench allows for frequent rotation.
In recent seasons, Florida’s use of player rotation has seemed forced. With multiple guys in and out of the lineup with no apparent rhyme to the reason.
However, in this contest, more than the first two, Florida effectively utilized their bench. Having fifteen players see minutes due to the blowout victory, ten players (Tre Mann, Tyree Appleby, Ques Glover, Noah Locke, Samson Ruzhentsev Scottie Lewis, Keyontae Johnson, Colin Castleton, Anthony Dujuri, Osayi Osifo ) saw meaningful playing time for Gators.
With the increased tempo that Florida is attempting to transition back to after a few years of a slow-tempo half-court offense, having 10-12 players that can produce at a high level pays dividends to staying fresh while playing at a high pace.
Defense halts Stetson’s scoring attack with relentless pressure.
Coming into the matchup, the Stetson team was averaging 60 points per game and had just matched that average Friday against the Miami Hurricane.
However, getting off to a languid start—shooting just 11.5% from the floor in the first half—Stetson could barely eclipse the 40-point mark.
Led by Rob Perry and Chase Johnston—who accounted for over half of their points with 23 combined—the pesky Gators defense utilized a mixture of relentless pressure and hand activity on the ball handlers to limit their offensive production.
As a result, the Hatters finished the game accounting for 23 total turnovers and shot under 20% from the field for the contest. Turning defensive effort into offensive production, the Gators continuously found themselves with opportunities to score early in the shot clock. Opportunities they would take advantage of.
In the end, the Gators defense accounted for six blocks and eight steals on their way to a 46-point victory at home. As they look towards the future, being able to replicate this defensive performance in an effort to create offensive production will prove vital to their season-long success.
Florida was highly efficient from the charity stripe.
One of the biggest keys to a competitive basketball team is taking advantage of the opportunities for free points.
Florida was able to do that with only three missed free throws on the afternoon.
With veterans, Keyontae Johnson, Tre Mann, Scottie Lewis, and Ques Glover combining to go 15-15 from the line, Florida knocked down a whopping 87.5% (21-24) of their free throws.
With that being a major inhibitor to their ability to win ball games over more talented opponents in past years, the signs of further improvement at the charity stripe is an encouraging aspect for their game big-time contests down the line.
Overall, the Gators did as they pleased against the heavily outmatched opponent. Now, Florida will look to use this dominant showing as a confidence booster when they travel to Tallahassee to take on the 22nd ranked Florida State Seminoles next Saturday at 11 AM.