In the first week of the 2017-18 season, the Florida Gators blew out two teams by more than 30 points. They would add a third blowout win one week later.
Nearly a full month later, Florida finally has its fourth — sort of. The Gators’ 75-60 win over Incarnate Word on Friday was a triumph created less by brilliant play than sustained effort.
Florida shot 39 percent from the floor and made just nine threes on 36 attempts; it also committed as many turnovers, 13, as it had assists on the night. Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson, so often the twin cannons Florida brought to bear on foes early this season, combined for 25 points, but shot a combined 10-for-29 from the field.
And yet: Chris Chiozza had 16 points on five shots and four assists and four steals and no turnovers. Kevarrius Hayes rebounded from a terrible outing against James Madison with an eight-point night. Michael Okauru had eight points and three steals off the bench, supplying much-needed scoring at moments that called for it. And Florida played stellar defense for long stretches of the second half, forced 23 turnovers on the evening, and finally built a lead and maintained it, something that has escaped it for the better part of the last month.
This was not a runaway win akin to the ones the Gators notched early this season. It was, though, a victory by a comfortable margin, and came on a night when Florida only grazed the broad side of the barn, sort of.
It’s not much. But it’s something.