If you didn’t know Egor Koulechov’s name before Monday night’s game, it’d be almost impossible to forget it afterwards. The graduate transfer and first-year Gator finished the contest with 34 points, knocking down six of his nine shots from beyond the arc. Koulechov’s 34 points vs. Gardner-Webb were the most by a Florida Gator in his team debut since Tom Baxley scored the same amount on December 1, 1962.
Jalen Hudson finished second in scoring with 16 points on six of eight shooting from the field. Deaundrae Ballard led all freshman with 14 points, adding four rebounds as well. The Gators outshot the Bulldogs, 58% to 42%, and knocked down 52% of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Florida created offense from defense throughout the entire contest. The Gators scored 22 points off of 14 Gardner-Webb turnovers and blocked eight total shots. Six different Florida players blocked a shot in Monday night’s game. The Gators also averaged 1.468 points per possession and scored on 65.8% of their possessions.
News Of Note
Earlier this week, former managers Andrew Fava and Mak Krause were promoted to walk-ons. They both played in Monday’s season-opener vs. Gardner-Webb. Fava recorded an assist with under a minute left in the game on a nice dish to Deaundrae Ballard for the layup.
Mike White on Deaundrae Ballard and Michael Okauru:
Mike White on Egor Koulechov’s shooting performance:
Mike White on Koulechov’s overall performance:
Mike White on his team’s toughness and communication on the court:
Mike White on the Gators’ transition offense vs. Gardner-Webb:
Egor Koulechov on his 34-point performance:
Egor Koulechov on his first official game at the O’Connell Center:
Michael Okauru on everybody getting to play in the game, including the recently added walk-0ns.
While the Gators started off the game with a thunderous KeVaughn Allen dunk, the momentum didn’t completely swing in Florida’s favor early. The Gators only led by two at the under-16 minute timeout in the first half. Both teams opened the contest 3 for 7 from the field.
After an 8-2 run, the Gators took an 18-14 lead with 10:48 remaining in the first frame. Florida’s first half shooting percentage continued to drop, putting them at 39% from the field after the first 9 minutes and 12 seconds of play.
With 8:45 left in the first half, Chase Johnson checked into the game for the first time. He started his Gator career with a block and a silky mid-range jumper to give Florida a 28-19 lead with 7:43 remaining in the first twenty minutes.
A 14-0 run, featuring four straight three-point baskets, gave the Gators a 40-19 lead with just under six minutes left in the first half. During the stretch, Egor Koulechov gave Florida immediate offense, nailing three straight catch-and-shoot three-pointers.
The Gators ended the half on a 13-5 run, taking a 55-32 lead into the locker room. The first half could be simply described as the Egor Koulechov show, as the graduate transfer from Rice scored 23 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
Florida shot 50% from the floor in the first twenty minutes and knocked down 10 of 21 three-point attempts. Gardner-Webb struggled towards the end of the first frame, finishing the half shooting a measly 39% from the field and 33% from downtown.
11 Gators entered the game in the first half, with all of them scoring at least two points besides Keith Stone. Florida outrebounded Gardner-Webb, 24-16, and forced 8 turnovers leading to 13 points.
A 10-4 run early in the second half gave Florida a 67-39 lead with 15:10 remaining in the contest. The Gators were averaging 1.49 points per possession at this point in the game.
Florida continued feeding the hot hand as Egor Koulechov helped the team build a 35-point lead with 11:57 left in the game. The Gators shot 61.5% from the field in the first 8 minutes of the second half.
The Gators took their first 40-point lead of the game on a Deaundrae Ballard contested lay-up. Florida went up 84-44 on the shot with 10:19 remaining in the contest.
Michael Okauru took over the show midway through the second half. At one point, he scored 8 of Florida’s 13 points on a 13-8 Gator run. UF led Gardner-Webb 88-50 with 7:41 remaining in the game.
The Gators finished the game on a 20-17 run, winning their season-opener vs. Gardner-Webb, 116-74.
The Gators will have two days off before taking on the North Florida Ospreys at home on Thursday night at 7 PM. You can catch that game on the SEC Network.