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Florida 76, Charleston Southern 46: Gators disarm Buccaneers in Friday night rout

Defense fueled Florida’s first win of the year.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Florida State
Did you think we were going to have pictures from tonight’s game? LOL. (Also: LOL at this picture.)
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight Florida Gators game, one team finished the first half on 20 points.

This time, though, it was Florida foe Charleston Southern — and the Buccaneers wouldn’t score for nearly eight minutes of the second half, as the Gators ran up much of the lead that would enable them to cruise to a 76-46 victory.

That extended scoring drought for the Bucs, which lasted from the 2:57 mark of the first half to the 12:47 mark of the second, doubled as an extended 18-0 run for the Gators, who never trailed after early buckets from KeVaughn Allen erased a 3-2 lead. And it was defense that carried Florida on this night, as they held Charleston Southern to 26 percent shooting from the field (and just five makes on 28 threes) and forced 19 turnovers — 12 of which became Florida steals — leading to 24 Florida points.

Florida thrived in transition on this night, with Allen scoring about half of his team-leading 14 points on the break or in semi-transition, and showed signs of progress in the half court after being almost fully incompetent on offense against Florida State. Only Deaundrae Ballard (12 points) and Jalen Hudson (10 points) joined Allen in double figures on the night, but eight Gators scored at least six points, and all 10 of the Gators who scored mustered at least four.

Florida also cut down on its turnovers considerably, committing just four on the night, and got good ball movement from an offense that flowed more naturally from freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard — who had seven points, seven rebounds, and six assists, and forked over just one turnover. Only Ballard — erratic as ever — committed more than one turnover for Florida, in fact, as the Gators’ care with the ball helped preserve possessions much like Charleston Southern’s 11 offensive rebounds did on the other side.

That inability to keep an opponent off the offensive glass will be one of Mike White’s primary areas of concern coming out of this game.

But there are far fewer glaring flaws to correct after this one — and Florida’s ability to improve in most areas after just two days of practice is promising.