The Florida Gators led James Madison — 4-8 on the season James Madison, Colonial Athletic Association bottom-dweller James Madison — by just one point at the half. They would lead by no more than 14 points on the evening, and win by just nine.
But, hey, Florida did win, and by a 72-63 count. That makes two in the last six!
Chris Chiozza (19 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and KeVaughn Allen (17 points on 10 shots) starred for Florida on this night, which didn’t look dissimilar to much of the rest of the Gators’ season since their white-hot start. Florida made 10 threes, but on 31 attempts; had as many turnovers as assists (12); and got outrebounded on the boards by an undersized Dukes outfit that fought gamely and hit big shots to keep in striking distance of the home favorite for much of the night.
But Florida also forced 18 turnovers and detonated the Dukes’ offense for long stretches in the second half despite not doing much on the offensive end, something that required effort that Florida has not always exerted defensively. And this was a win in a game in which wing scorers Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulechov shot a combined 5-for-19 from the field and scored a combined 14 points.
The win was not as lopsided as it could or should have been. The way Florida played was not as inspiring as it could or should have been, either.
But it’s something, and Florida needs something more than the abyss in the worst way right now.