Instant Analysis: Gators get back-to-back wins, take down Richmond in Orange Bowl Classic

Florida 87 - Richmond 76

by Zack Weiss
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Florida rebounded from back-to-back losses (Baylor, Wake Forest) by stringing together a pair of wins (Merrimack, Richmond) to start the month of December, leaving the Orange & Blue at 6-3 nine games into the season. Will Richard and Tyrese Samuel led the way for the Gators Saturday evening as they took down the Spiders 87-76.

Inside the GatorsInstant Analysis takes a quick look at how the game unfolded.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: The buzzer hit triple zeros. Florida held a lead for all but two and a half minutes of game time, but Richmond kept it respectably close the whole way through; the Spiders were able to do this by going 11-22 from deep. But Florida’s interior presence ended up being more than dominant enough to counteract that, resulting in the 11-point neutral-site win.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: Will Richard, the junior guard out of Fairburn, Georgia, finally had the game Florida fans have been waiting for all season. His talent is impossible not to notice. His potential is league-bound. But it’s the consistency, the ability to rely on him on a game-by-game basis, that fans just haven’t been able to feel comfortable with this season. Against Richmond, though, he had his moment. Hopefully, it’ll end up being one that leads to a string of consistent play, of confidence. He came into Saturday evening averaging just 8.3 points per game on 34.5% shooting. He finished with 21 points and seven boards on an efficient 8-12 from the field against the Spiders.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: The Gators dominated the interior. Despite shooting just 45% from the field and 31% from three, they were still able to come away with a double-digit win because of that. Florida got to the line 25 times, making 20 of them, had 49 rebounds to the Spiders’ 30 and scored 34 points in the paint to Richmond’s 18.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Florida’s guards knew coming in that Richmond’s Jordan King would be a tough matchup. The 6-foot, 175-pound senior out of Albany, New York, has averaged over 20 points, four rebounds and two assists this season for the Spiders. The Gators’ backcourt did quite a good job on him all night, however, limiting King to just 14 points on 6-15 shooting. He did contribute in other ways, adding six rebounds and six assists, but was clearly bothered by the Orange & Blue’s ability to guard the perimeter.

WHAT A PLAY: As the second half got rolling, Will Richard did too. With 11:44 to play, he made his second of back-to-back threes to get himself up to 16 points and put the Gators up 62-46. This completed an 11-2 Florida run going into a timeout. At this point, momentum swung completely in the Gators’ favor.

UP NEXT: Florida (6-3) will next take the court Thursday at 7 p.m. in Lakeland against East Carolina (6-4) for the Florida Tip-Off.

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