Look: There were a slew of factors that lead to the Florida Gators’ 66-60 win over Cincinnati in Newark on Saturday night.
Egor Koulechov snapped out of a slump to score 21 points. Jalen Hudson had a clutch three down the stretch and an important rebound in the final seconds. Kevarrius Hayes made two free throws when Florida absolutely needed both, and had a block in the last minute.
But this game belonged to the man who dominated it down the stretch — and that was Chris Chiozza.
Chiozza’s final stat line — 15 points, six assists, four rebounds — was not an aberrational one for him, not this year. His range of contributions was not unusual, either. And it’s not that surprising that he would provide the only points scored in the last 1:12.
How he did it, though, both surprised and didn’t.
Chiozza spent much of the final five minutes of this game posting up almost from the wing, attacking a matchup zone that had given Florida fits for much of the night. He would take the ball up, turn his back, find his defender -- and make a good decision.
He did that with the game tied at 60-60, curling into the lane to hit a leaner and give Florida the lead for good. He did that on the next possession, too, generating a wide-open lane that Keith Stone ran for what should have been an explosive dunk — and what still led to a long rebound tracked down by Hudson and dished to Chiozza for the necessary intentional foul.
Chiozza didn’t do that on the last two possessions — because, instead, he raced ahead of the defense on a steal to put in a salt-it-away layup, and then played a little more good defense on a final possession ending in a steal.
And he didn’t have to make any unforgettable running threes in this game — because it was just won, done and dusted.
After a week in which Florida was nowhere close to earning wins in its first two games, it felt pretty good to see the Gators fully earn this one.