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Florida 70, New Hampshire 63: Gators survive battle with Wildcats

Florida never really put away a game New Hampshire team — but it did win.

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

When the Florida Gators needed to find a way to pull out a victory over New Hampshire on Sunday night, they turned to Jalen Hudson — and the Virginia Tech transfer got the job done.

But Hudson caping up still wasn’t enough to put the Wildcats all the way away, and Florida’s 70-63 win was the sort of ugly one that could inspire many who hopped on the Gators’ bandwagon to hop off — or find the latest on Chip Kelly, ASAP.

Hudson scored 26 points off the bench, snagged seven rebounds, and tied for the team lead in assists — with one — to carry Florida for much of the second half on Sunday. And the Gators needed the help: Apart from Hudson, zero Florida players made more than half of their shots, and none scored more than Egor Koulechov’s 14 points.

As a team, Florida shot 32 percent from the field, and 16 percent from three — numbers far removed from their shooting percentages in two season-opening wins that featured the Gators scoring nearly a point and a half per possession and cresting the century mark.

Against the Wildcats, Florida mustered just 1.07 points per possession — and most of their points came from the free throw stripe, where Hudson led four Gators who made at least four freebies.

That offensive futility will be the takeaway from this game, not Florida’s fairly good defense — thwarted, when it was, by crafty UNH big Tanner Leissner and the Wildcats’ hot night from three, as 10 of 25 triples connected.

And Mike White will have plenty to harp on as the Gators move on from a week with three games to a three-day stretch with three more.