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Florida guard Scottie Lewis (23) celebrates with Keyontae Johnson after blocking a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida State, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Gators Men’s Basketball Escapes Towson 66-60

The Florida men’s basketball team defeated the Towson Tigers 66-60 on Thursday night at the Stephen O’Connell Center.  Florida’s Scottie Lewis led all scorers with 15 points while Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 13 points and 13 rebounds for Florida. This was his third double-double of the season.

“We’ve got a high level of unselfishness on this team. [Scottie] has been a guy who lets it come to him.” -Gators coach Mike White

Lewis made his first-ever start for the Gators, scoring 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half. He hit two big three-point shots to get Florida rolling out of half time.  Noah Locke’s shooting woes to start the season caused Florida coach Mike White to bench him in favor of the freshman Lewis. This decision would pay off for the Gators.

Andrew Nembhard had nine of the team’s 13 total assists. He’s been the floor general all season for Mike White’s team.

First Half

Early in the game, Florida put the ball in the hoop at a high rate. This was something that they struggled with against Florida State. The team started 5 of 8 from the floor through the first six minutes of the first half.  However, the Gators continue to be streaky at times with scoring. After a good start, the Gators went on to miss 9 of their next 10 shots. The Gators shot 35% in the first half, and 17% from three.

The Gators finished the first half shooting 50% inside the arc, and 12% outside the arc.

Unfortunately for the Gators, Towson caught fire while the Gators froze. The Tigers went on an 11-0 scoring run to take the lead, which they held until the Gators took the lead off of a 7-0 run.

Pivotal for the Gators during the run was Keyontae Johnson. Johnson connected on a three-pointer and alley-oop dunk to electrify the crowd and his team.

Second Half

The Gators came out hot in the second half, with Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann helping Florida reclaim the lead in less than five5 minutes.  The lead would change multiple times as the Gators and the Tigers exchanged blows. One team would hit a three-pointer, then the other one would follow suit. It was back and forth.

The game would come down to the play of Lewis and Blackshear Jr. down the stretch. Blackshear Jr. made a clutch layup to put the Gators up by two with less than a minute left in the game. Lewis grabbed the game-sealing rebound and hit two free-throws to ice the game.

Takeaways

With solidified lineups, Mike White’s rotations appear to be getting better with their perimeter defense. The team appeared to communicate with one another consistently and make the right rotations on pick-and-rolls.

Florida took care of the ball and limited turnovers. The team totaled 13 assists and eight turnovers, and Nembhard had nine of the team’s assists. These are things that should help the team as the season goes along.

The Gators are getting the open looks and executing the plays to get good shots. In the second half, the team found it’s rhythm, and shot the ball reasonably well, but the Gators are still not shooting well from long distance.

Hopefully for Florida, the long distance shots will start to fall.

Lewis is confident in the team’s ability to score. According to him, Florida is still one of the best offensive teams in the country.

What’s next

The Gators advance to 2-1 on their season, and travel to take on Connecticut on Sunday.

Towson falls to 2-2 on the season. They will next host No. 21 Xavier on November 21.

About Steven Walker

Steven Walker is a beat writer for ESPN Gainesville and is currently studying Journalism & Sports Media at the University of Florida.

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