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Florida 77, Butler 43: Gators pound Bulldogs in Gainesville

A change of scenery produced a significant change in results.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Florida Gators met an oddly familiar foe again and made up for a dispiriting recent loss with a resounding triumph.

Also, they played football.

The Gators of the hardwood followed a Peach Bowl beatdown of Michigan by their gridiron brethren with an even more lopsided rout of Butler later in the afternoon, pounding the Bulldogs by a 77-43 count.

Consider this: Florida led this game 21-0 ... and then won by 34.

That was the residue of a phenomenal start on the defensive end that gradually dissolved into excellence on both ends. The Gators collected four blocks and five steals while holding Butler without a make over its first 11 shots during that 21-0 run from the tip, and yet managed to extend the lead in both halves.

Florida got double-figure scoring from five players, building what would become a 43-18 halftime lead on the strength of many of their 10 threes. But that lead would balloon in the second half, too, eventually settling at 34 in the final margin — after walk-ons Andrew Fava and Mak Krause both scored in the final minutes of play.

Shooting 54 percent from the field while allowing an opponent to make just 31 percent of its shots will do that, though. So will nabbing 46 boards to 18 for a foe. So will not allowing a single Bulldog to score in double figures — Kamar Baldwin (19 points in the Bahamas, nine in Gainesville) being held in check set the tone for the day, and effectively short-circuited the Butler attack.

In its last big game before the commencement of its SEC schedule, Florida played by far its best game of the year.

Approaching this level — or exceeding it — regularly during conference play would do plenty to turn this season from frustrating to fantastic.