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Gators rout Troy for best start since 2012

© Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK
© Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

As Tyree Appleby nailed a 40-foot stunner to complete UF’s comeback against Ohio State, the ecstatic Gator bench swarmed the senior point guard to celebrate their first 5-0 start since 2017-18 and a Fort Myers Tip-Off championship.

But the message from the Florida coaching staff quickly became to shelve the jubilation and prepare for the lowly Troy Trojans coming to Gainesville Sunday.

“We don’t focus on the future or the past,” Phlandrous Fleming said. “It’s all about going 1-0 this week.”

And for the second time this season after an impassioned victory the Gators showed no signs of an emotional hangover against the Trojans — UF never trailed Sunday and held a double-digit lead for 37 minutes in a 84-45 victory.

The Gators shot the lights out Sunday, knocking down 13 three pointers and converting from the charity stripe at an 88 percent clip. Florida’s offensive downpour was matched by a stifling defense that forced 21 turnovers and limited Troy to 36 percent shooting in a game that was never really in doubt.

Myreon Jones took a big first step towards becoming Florida’s volume scorer from the perimeter Sunday, finishing as the team’s joint top scorer with 12 points on 4-9 shooting from three. Anthony Duruji found Jones for an open three just 18 seconds into the ball game, and the Penn State transfer freed himself for a Castleton feed and knocked down another long ball to force a Troy timeout and bring the UF lead to 8-0.

Fleming knocked down a three pointer coming off of his first start of the year, and free throws from Colin Castleton followed by a three from Tyree Appleby brought the Gators lead to 16-2. Duke Dean and TK Smith brought the Trojans within 10, but a pair of dominant runs from the Gators put the game well out of reach by halftime.

Brandon McKissic kick-started a quick 7-0 run for the Gators with a mid-range jumper, and a Duruji paired with another Myreon Jones triple grew the UF lead to 17. And with 4 minutes to go left in the half, the Gators surged into the locker room off of a 13-0 run, powered by nine points from beyond the arc and a buzzer-beating, Kobe-inspired fade away from Kowacie Reeves to put the Gators up 49-20 at the half.

The Gators flashed their seemingly limitless depth from start to finish Saturday, as six Gators finished the game in double figures and 12 Gators stepped onto the floor for at least five minutes. The second half also allowed a couple of Florida’s younger players to find their touch on the offensive end, as Reeves finished the afternoon with a season-high eight points and fellow freshman Elijah Kennedy converted on a pair of field goals as fell.

A visibly frustrated Mike White called a quick timeout after the locker room after the Gators allowed a pair of easy layups, as he implored his team to continue their relentless assault on the Trojan defenses. Hot shooting from Troy narrowed the deficit, but a 13-2 run for UF reignited the rout and saw Florida cruise to a season-high 39-point victory.

The Gators will look to preserve their perfect record Wednesday, as the Gators will travel to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and television information is to be determined.