In a belated home opener on Wednesday evening, the Florida Gators dispatched the visiting Little Rock Trojans with ease, beating them 94-71 behind five double-digit scoring performances.
The Gators (9-3) were forced to play the majority of their non-conference schedule away from their usual home arena, the O’Connell Center, which was in the process of being renovated and was reopened to the team only within the last few days. Florida head coach Mike White, in his second year at the Gators’ helm after a successful run at Louisiana Tech, led his team to a resounding double-digit win to open up the fresh building.
Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen, a native of Little Rock, scored 13 of Florida’s first 20 points of the game, including three 3-pointers, as the Gators raced to a quick start and took advantage of early trepidation and miscues by the Trojans (9-4) to build a lead that stuck.
Florida scored the first nine points of the evening and began the contest on a blistering 29-11 run. The Gators led by 29 points at halftime.
Lis Shoshi was a bright spot for Little Rock, as the 6-11 senior forward from Kosovo impressed in the paint and was 9-of-12 from the field, scoring a team-high 19 points.
The Trojans made a definite offensive improvement from their last outing, a double-digit setback to Oral Roberts, although the team was still markedly cold from behind the 3-point arc (5-of-16; only one player, Andre Jones, landed more than one such shot).
Five Florida players scored into double-digits, with Devin Robertson (21 points) and Allen (19) pacing the way. The Gators also made 16 3-pointers in the game, with four from Robertson and five coming from Allen’s hot hand.
Canyon Barry (15 points), a graduate transfer guard who last played for the College of Charleston, continued to find his shot off the bench with three 3-pointers, tying a season high.
For Little Rock, Jones was 6-for-11 shooting and finished with 14 points, while redshirt sophomore Oliver Black, a transfer from Mississippi State, broke into double-digits (11; 4-of-7 from floor and 3-of-4 from free-throw line) for the first time on the young season.
The matchup ended for both teams the out-of-conference “tune-up” period before the advent of the conference slate. Little Rock opens its Sun Belt slate with a home game on New Year’s Eve against the ULM Warhawks, and will stick around to host the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns the following Monday.
Florida will play its second consecutive program from the Natural State on Thursday, Dec. 29, only this time it will be an SEC tilt with the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark.