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Florida 102, Long Beach State 63: Gators wipe out Beach with waves of youth

An easy, breezy, beautiful dub.


The Florida Gators had to know that Long Beach State was walking into the O’Connell Center as an overmatched outfit on Saturday.

But they let the world see that, too, in a 102-63 thrashing that was more notable for its tempo and the resulting box score feats than anything else.

Nearly every Gator who played either set or threatened a career high, as Florida pushed the ball for much of the afternoon. For Andrew Nembhard, that was assists; his 13 put him in fairly elite company among Gators. For Noah Locke, 10 rebounds was a career high — by five — and enough to get him his first career double-double, with four threes helping get him to 16 points.

For Kerry Blackshear, it was 21 points, one shy of his Florida high of 22. For Keyontae Johnson, it was also 21 points — one shy of his career high.

And then there were Florida’s freshmen, who combined for 32 points and 16 boards even without Scottie Lewis, who sat out after suffering a concussion midweek. All three — Omar Payne, elevated to starter by Lewis’s absence, and reserves Tre Mann and Ques Glover — made it to double figures in scoring as Florida crested 100 points for the first time since 2017.

But this was what was expected and hoped for from the Gators against the Beach, who played a game tipping at 9 a.m. their local time and looked like it, trailing 18-1 early and by as many as 30 in the first half. Florida would extend that lead to as many as 43 in the second half, too — and probably could have won by 50, if not for a poor showing from the foul line, where Gators not named Kerry Blackshear went 8-for-21.

Still, this was an easy win over a team with no real chance to compete. Florida didn’t get many of those in non-conference play and won’t get many of them over its SEC schedule.

For a day, this felt good.