Instant Analysis: Gators take care of business, improve to 2-1

Florida 89 - FAMU 68

by Zack Weiss
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Florida will officially enter Friday’s rivalry matchup against Florida State above .500, at 2-1, after taking care of business against Florida A&M Tuesday night. Neither team could buy a bucket early on, but the Gators got enough from some key guys to propel them to a rather comfortable win.

Inside the Gators’ Instant Analysis takes a quick look at how the game unfolded.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Even with Florida’s lackluster effort for most of the night, outside of a few guys, this one was probably over from the start. This was one of those game’s where the talent gap is just too wide to close. Now, credit to the Rattlers, they hung in there. Almost all the way through. Robert McCullum had his guys playing legitimately hard for 40 minutes. But once Will Richard knocked down a three with 2:18 left to put the Gators up 20, at 86-66, pulse went flat on the A&M sideline.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: Will Richard finally got it going. Saying “finally” three games into the season may seem like a bit much, but Florida fans should expect big things out of the junior. He has the talent to be a leader on this team but hadn’t looked like it up until this point. Against the Rattlers, however, from the jump, he was the guy. He came with energy on both ends of the floor, spending time guarding their best player and earning tough baskets on the other end. He finished the night with 20 points on 6-12 shooting and 6-7 from the line. Going forward, his confidence and consistency are going to be key for his squad’s success.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: The Gators dominated the interior. They were expected to, given the size advantage. But credit where credit is due; they did. Florida outrebounded the Rattlers 46-31 and outscored them in the paint 46-34. The Orange & Blue had 8 blocks to A&M’s 1. When you win all of those categories, it usually means a W in the win column. Against FSU Friday night, Golden’s going to need his bigs — namely Tyrese Samuel, Micah Handlogten, and Alex Condon — to, well, come up big.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Florida’s guards vs. K’Jei Parker

Parker, the Rattlers’ star freshman, has led the team in points through its first two games. He went into Tuesday night averaging 12.5 points, 4 boards, and 2.5 assists on the season. The leader of A&M’s offense, it was going to be up to Florida’s guards to slow him down — and therefore slow them down. And that they did. Walter Clayton, Will Richard and Denzel Aberdeen took turns guarding him all night long, and they all held their own. Parker finished with just 9 points on 4-12 from the field and 2 turnovers.

WHAT A PLAY: With just under four minutes to play, Walter Clayton Jr. found Alex Condon on the fastbreak for a dunk that sparked some much-needed energy into the O’Connell Center and put the Gators up 81-63. These were Condon’s 16h and 17th points of the night; the freshman had a fantastic outing, contributing 17 points on 6-8 from the floor and 2-3 from deep. Clayton played very well himself, finishing with 18 points, 5 assists, and 3 boards.

UP NEXT: Florida (2-1) will be back in the O-Dome Friday night at 7:30 to host rival Florida State (2-0).

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