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Instant Analysis: Florida victorious in Big12/SEC Challenge


* Alley: Florida-Baylor Game Thread



The No. 20 Florida Gators’ (15-6, 7-2) unstoppable shooting from beyond the arc propelled them to an 81-60 victory over the Baylor Bears (12-9, 2-7) in the SEC-Big12 Challenge on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville. The Gators hit 56% of their shots from three-point range en route to a 21-point victory at Exactech Arena.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: The Gators continued to push the pace and forced Baylor to play outside of their comfort zone. The Bears shot 40% from the field and 20% from three-point range. They were even worse in the second half, going 1-6 from long-range. UF did a nice job of not over-switching and helping in the paint when needed. The Gators double-teamed Baylor’s best big man, Jo Lual-Acuil at every possible opportunity, limiting him to 9 points and 5 rebounds on 4-7 shooting.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: Chris Chiozza has the ability to be the best point guard in the country this season. Chiozza ended the game with 20 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds on 7-10 shooting, while only turning the ball over 1 time. When Chiozza can stay out of foul trouble and add 30 or more minutes, the team benefits exponentially.

Egor Koulechov is the Gators’ X-Factor. When he scores 14 or more points, Florida is 9-2 on the year. Koulechov recorded 16 points and 8 boards on Saturday afternoon and was stellar from beyond the arc (3-of-3). When he’s on, it gives his teammates a ton of confidence. Koulechov has also grabbed at least 8 rebounds in 8 of the Gators’ last 9 games.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: Florida is now 12-3 in games that they hit 8 or more three-pointers. The Gators went 14-of-25 from beyond the arc, sinking 9 of their 12 attempts from deep in the first half. When Florida hits their threes, it opens up the paint, allowing the frontcourt to go to work inside.

Jalen Hudson’s second-half performance helped the Gators pull away from any kind of Baylor comeback. The Virginia Tech-transfer ended the contest with 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Hudson went 5-11 from the floor and 3-5 from long-range in the final twenty minutes.

WHAT A PLAY: Chiozza’s fade-away jumper in the post, followed by a transition three-pointer gave the Gators a 15-point lead with 4:30 remaining in the first half. The three capped a stretch in which Chiozza scored 13 straight points for UF. “Cheese” added 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists on 5-7 shooting in the first twenty minutes.

BOTTOM LINE: When Florida continues to hit their threes at a high clip, they’re capable of being one of the most prolific offenses in college basketball. On nights where the Gators can get solid production out of three of their four best scorers (Chiozza, Koulechov, Hudson, Allen), they’re able to spread defenses extremely thin. Saturday’s victory gave UF another solid non-conference win to pad their NCAA Tournament resume. Despite losing to South Carolina on Wednesday, Florida should still be ranked in Monday’s AP Poll after the win over Baylor.

UP NEXT: The Gators have two days off before heading to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. UGA is one of the top 30 teams in the nation in defensive efficiency, but has struggled to score this season. Forward Yante Maten is leading the SEC in points per game and is second in rebounds per game.


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