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Florida vs. North Florida, Game Thread: Treys to fly as Gators meet Ospreys

Expect some long-distance dials.

NCAA Basketball: Gardner-Webb at Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

When the Florida Gators tip with the North Florida Ospreys on Thursday night in Gainesville, one can safely predict rain in the O’Connell Center.

That’s what happens when Mik3 Whit3’s Gators and the Birds of Trey play.

Florida wing Egor Koulechov — currently the nation’s leading scorer and the No. 2 player in KenPom’s Player of the Year standings, which are definitely not the products of a ridiculously small sample size at the moment — led a record-setting barrage by the Gators in their opener against Gardner Webb on Monday, scoring 34 points to tie a school record for points in a debut and sinking six of Florida’s 15 threes, the program’s most in a season opener. Gators guards KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson combined to let another 17 threes fly, while four other Florida players took at least two each.

And in two exhibitions and one regular-season game this fall, the Gators have hoisted 29, 25, and 29 threes — a significant uptick for a team that attempted 25 or more triples just 11 times in 36 games in 2016-17.

North Florida, meanwhile, shoots even more threes.

The Ospreys got their Birds of Trey nickname two years ago, as they shot better than 40 percent from deep, allocated nearly half of the shots to threes, and posted the second-highest percentage of points on threes in Division I. But Matthew Driscoll’s outfit kept up the rate of fire a year ago despite declining accuracy numbers, and this year’s early returns suggest the Ospreys are once again bombing away with remarkable success — UNF is hitting just under 44 percent of its threes through three contests, and those games have come against Michigan State, Michigan, and VCU, three teams with NCAA Tournament plans.

Of course, Florida has those, too — and Florida may be better than all of those three teams, and has thrashed UNF in two meetings over the last two years. A trip to Jacksonville for a 2016 NIT game produced a 97-68 win for the Gators, while a return in December 2016 went to Florida by a 91-60 score.

And in those games, Florida has shut down the Ospreys’ shooters, allowing UNF to make just 15 of 47 threes, while also shooting a smoldering 27-for-51 from deep.