It was everything Mike White could have asked for on Monday night as he coached his first game in the O’Dome; the house that Billy Donovan built.
The Florida men’s basketball team surged to a 104-54 victory over North Carolina A&T as it claimed its second win of the early season. Florida scorched to an early lead as they went on a 18-2 run to start the game, and they never looked back.
“I was proud of the effort that we showed up with tonight in terms of our intensity level from the jump,” White said. “We came out defensively in half court and in the full-court press. I thought we came out with a lot of energy. I thought throughout the 40 minutes, we played very very unselfishly especially with a big lead in the second half.”
Florida’s three point shot was falling from everywhere on the court, as they boasted a 51.7% (15-29) shooting percentage from beyond the arc. This comes after the Gators struggled from the three point line just a game before against Navy where they shot an abysmal 15.8% (3-19).
Dorian Finney-Smith and Chris Chiozza led the Gators in 3-pointers made as they each sunk three, but the biggest surprise came from the 6’10” big man Schuyler Rimmer who drained his only attempt from deep to increase Florida’s lead to 51 points.
“The overall play is four or five of them go down for you and it seems like it has an affect on your overall confidence level as a team,” said White. “We will take 15 of 29 every night, and Schuyler of course shooting 1,000%, you know he needs to be our leading attempt guy now.”
Florida shot the ball exceptionally well tonight as they shot 57.6% after the first half from the floor, and ended the night shooting 53.6% with six Gators scoring in double digits. DeVon Walker and Devin Robinson scored a team high 15 points, and Robinson added seven rebounds off the bench.
Dorian Finney-Smith also contributed with a double-double scoring 14 points and grabbed a team high 10 rebounds.
Florida also showed some improvement as they continue to adjust to a much faster style of play offensively. In the Gators exhibition game and in their season opener, they combined for 42 turnovers, but on Monday they took care of the basketball only coughing up the ball 13 times against the Aggies.
“He [Coach White] just told us we can’t do that [turn the ball over],” Walker said. “We are a high level program that will be playing great talents just like we did tonight, and if you turn the ball over, you give yourself no shot of winning. So at least to put us in a ball game we got to clean that up.”
White has started the campaign with a 2-0 start and will look for his third straight win when his squad travels to Connecticut to take on St. Joseph’s on Saturday.