Instant Analysis: Make it two in a row with blowout win over South Carolina

Jan 25, 2023 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Todd Golden and Co., coming off a two-point road win against Mississippi St. Saturday, welcomed South Carolina into the O’Dome Wednesday night. The Gators, looking for their fifth win in their last six. The Gamecocks, looking to end their three-game skid. Florida was able to pull away in the second half and come away with the 81-60 win.

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

IT WAS OVER WHEN: With about 5:30 left in the game, Riley Kugel finished a fastbreak with a two-handed slam to put Florida up 77-47. In reality, things were likely over before this exact point. But going up 30 with five minutes to go really just puts the nail in the coffin of the other team. Kugel put together a strong performance after drawing the start with 14 points on 6-9 from the field and 2-4 from deep.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: A lot of Gators had great games tonight. Colin Castleton of course played well. Kowacie Reeves came off the bench and gave Florida the spark they needed early on. Riley Kugel did a lot of good as well. Kyle Lofton was his usual cool, calm, and collected self — putting up yet another efficient stat-line. But it was the guy who’s been really coming on strong lately for Golden who had yet another greatly impactful performance.

It feels like we’re saying this weekly at this point, but Myreon Jones may have had his best all-around game of the season thus far. Despite not shooting well from the field, he came up just short of a triple double after putting up 9 points, 10 boards and 8 assists. As long as he continues to take care of the ball, which he’s done an exceptional job of lately, expect to keep seeing big minutes from him as he continues to earn Golden’s trust.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: At the half, South Carolina was shooting 34.5% from the field and 30% from deep. They shot just three free throws and had nine turnovers. For the game, they shot 37% from the field on 60 shots and just 58% from the charity stripe.

The Florida defense stepped up in a big way, holding not just the team as a whole to a rough shooting night — but, most importantly, their key guys.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Colin Castleton vs. GG JacksonThe Gamecocks’ go-to guy, star freshman Gregory “GG” Jackson, was held to just eight points on nine shots in 18 first-half minutes. He finished the game with what on the stat-sheet alone appears to be a good game; but, in reality, was an extremely tough night. He and Castleton battled throughout, and Jackson was given nothing easy. The fact that he was still able to reach 20 points is a testament to his talent. But the Gators did as well of a job as they could making him earn everything he got. He finished the game 7-18 from the floor and 1-3 from beyond the arc.

The Gators’ go-to guy, on the other hand, ended with 18 of his own, but on an efficient 7-10 from the field and 4-5 from the line.

WHAT A PLAY: About three-and-a-half minutes into the second half, Myreon Jones found Riley Kugel cutting baseline for an alley-oop all the way from the opposite wing. This put the Gators up 46-30 and turned any momentum in the building not already on their side in their direction. This was Jones’ seventh assist of the night, which marked a career-high for the senior out of Birmingham.

UP NEXT: The Gators (12-8, 5-3) will next take the court Saturday evening at 6, when they’ll be facing the No. 5 ranked Kansas State Wildcats in Bramlage Coliseum. It’ll be Florida’s biggest test since their home-loss to UConn back on Dec. 7.

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