The Florida men’s basketball team’s trips to Sunrise for the Orange Bowl Classic have sometimes been for big games against teams with NCAA Tournament hopes.
On Saturday, the Gators didn’t see one of those teams — and crushed Charlotte, 87-46, as a result.
This wasn’t a close game from almost the opening tip. Florida led it 12-3 at the under-16 timeout, and responded to a Charlotte spurt to get within four points just after that timeout by ripping off a 24-3 run that put the Gators ahead by 20 points permanently.
Florida’s lead was 26 points at the half, and ballooned to 44 points late in the second — after another 21-2 run — before Mike White called off the dogs and played mostly reserves for the home stretch.
The damage had long been done.
Devin Robinson had already collected his 15 points on a customarily efficient six shots. Kasey Hill had distributed his five assists. Kevarrius Hayes, starting in place of John Egbunu thanks to the big(ger) man’s strained hamstring, had most of his nine points and five boards. The Gators had done all the work they had to against Charlotte star Jon Davis — who did not score until after they established that 44-point advantage, and finished with eight points, well under his season average of 20.
Florida forced 20 turnovers and had more defensive rebounds (30) than Charlotte had total rebounds (27). Their biggest offensive flaw, long-distance shooting, reared its head, as the Gators shot just 28.6 percent from three — and it didn’t matter.
This was a complete, composed, confident performance by the Gators.
And they haven’t played a single home game yet.