Gator Men’s Hoops win second straight; Defeat Texas Southern 75-50

For the first time all season the Florida Gator men’s basketball team is winners of two straight. The Gators (5-4) defeated the Tigers of Texas Southern 75-50 on Friday on a night where they were simply the better team in all facets of the game.

After Monday night’s dominant performance over Yale, Gator coach Billy Donovan was simply asking for consistency. Up until that game the Gators had yet to play well for an entire 60 minutes. Now four days after facing the Bulldogs, it appears the tougher practices Donovan put his players through have at least had some effect.

On Friday the Gators would start strong once again shooting 60 percent in the first half and they would shoot 54 percent from the field by the game’s end. The Gators finished with five players in double figures and Donovan attests his team’s success to their ability to spread the ball around.

“I thought we were pretty efficient in terms of moving and passing it, our ball movement was very good, our unselfishness was very good and I thought we stayed with that. I thought that was a positive in the game and the 19 assists were good.”

The Gators were led on the night by a couple of underclassmen in forwards Devin Robinson and Chris Walker. Robinson led the team with a career high 15 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field. The freshman has slowly begun to show improvement each game as he shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and was even able to get into the lane a time or two. Robinson finished with four rebounds and two assists to go along with one steal and seemingly took that next step in his development.

However Robinson’s great game would come at a cost as the freshman hit the deck with a little more than five minutes to go. You could hear a pin drop inside the O’Connell Center with Robinson down on the court, holding his ankle after taking an awkward step towards a defender. Luckily, Robinson was able to walk off under his own power and he would eventually return.

Walker finished the game second on the team with 12 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field. Despite hauling in just two rebounds, the sophomore was electric at times under the basket finishing with a couple dunks that would send the O’Dome into a frenzy. Walker also had four blocks in his 16 minutes of play and just like Robinson has made significant strides over the last few games. After Friday’s game, Donovan would talk specifically about his two forwards.

“Both of those two guys made the biggest jump after the first four or five games when they both admitted this is a lot harder than I ever anticipated it could be and I think when young players get to that point they become very coachable.”

The Gators also saw the return of shooting guard Eli Carter Friday night. The red-shirt junior played just 14 minutes finishing with six points, shooting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Carter also ended the night with two rebounds and one steal and if the Gators can see him get back to 100 percent he can be quite the weapon moving forward.

The Tigers (1-7) shot just 33 percent from the field and an even worse 26 percent from beyond the arc. Senior Deverell Biggs and junior Chris Thomas led the way with 18 and 15 points respectively but unfortunately for them their 33 points combined were almost double their teammates combined.

The Gators out-rebounded the Tigers on the night, finished with 15 more assists and dominated the battle inside. The Gators finished with 48 points inside the paint, coming up just short of the 52 they had on Monday night, but Donovan seemed happy with their efforts once again.

Up next for the Gators will be the Dolphins from Jacksonville. The Dolphins will enter 2-8 having lost four straight and Florida will be looking for their sixth win of this young season.

Tip-off is set for Sunday at 4pm.

For audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Billy Donovan talks about what his team did well Friday night

Billy Donovan says his team still has much to work on

Billy Donovan talks about his team’s defense on the night

Billy Donovan talks about Chris Walker and Devin Robinson

 

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