So it turns out that Scottie Wilbekin's pretty good at basketball.
Wilbekin's return was a fine one for Florida, as the Gators handed Jacksonville an 86-60 defeat on Monday night. He scored 12 points, dished five assists, grabbed seven rebounds, and recorded three steals, doing a little of everything on the first low-stress night of the season for the Gators.
Casey Prather (27 points to lead all scorers, five rebounds, and three assists) and Michael Frazier II (17 points, five-of-six from deep) both helped and were helped by Wilbekin's first game of the 2013-14 season after a six-game suspension, with the senior point guard finding Prather repeatedly, and especially in transition, and setting up Frazier for easy shots from deep with smart dribble-kick play.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points and 11 rebounds, registering his first double-double as a Gator, and Patric Young added 13 points despite struggling with foul trouble all night in a Jacksonville homecoming.
Florida shot 59.6 percent from the field, and made eight of 13 threes (Frazier had five, Wilbekin two, and Finney-Smith one), more than making up for a woeful 16-for-28 night at the line that shrank the final margin of victory and prevented Prather (5-for-9) from making a run at 30 points.
And, despite some late lapses, Florida played fantastic defense against the Dolphins, who came in averaging 81 points per game. They shot under 40 percent both from the field and the arc, and never really challenged after Florida built a double-digit lead early in the first half.
Of course, this being a Florida athletic contest in the 2013-14 academic year, there was a little shade to go with all the sunshine. DeVon Walker played only briefly on the night, going down with an ankle sprain. His status going forward is unclear.
But Florida was very good on this night, good enough to make me feel very comfortable about its chances of topping a surprising Florida State team in their Friday matchup, and good enough to allow Billy Donovan to spend some time chirping at a Jacksonville fan.
Coach D is absolutely going at some guy in the first row who is heckling our bench. Hit him with the scoreboard. Never seen that #Gators— Ryan King (@RKingGator) November 26, 2013
Billy just yelled back at a fan who mocked him for yelling at refs. "You should be out there. You could do a better job than those guys."— Chris Harry (@GatorZoneChris) November 26, 2013
It's always more fun when you're winning.