Offense wakes up in Florida win

The final game before Christmas has been an issue in recent years for the Gators. It looked like it would be again during the fist half on Saturday. The Gators struggled to score and led by just four points at halftime, but the second half was the difference. No. 16 Florida got on track with 43 second-half points to run away with a 66-49 win over Fresno State in Sunrise, Fla.

"We had a slow first half that could've gone better, but we did a really good job in the second half of passing the ball offensively and defensively guarding them," said forward Will Yeguete, who had nine points and 10 rebounds. "It's a good win before the break."

The Gators shot 57.7 percent (15-26) from the field in the second half and were 4-5 from behind the three-point line.

The first half was ugly. Florida scored just 23 points, a low for any first half this season, while shooting 29 percent (9-31) from the floor and 7.7 percent (1-13) from behind the three-point line. The Gators turned the ball over just four times in the first half, but it was the struggles from the field that held the offense down.

The offensive issues didn't change the way Florida defended in the first half. The Gators allowed Fresno State just 19 points in the first half, tying a season low previously set against Southern. The Bulldogs shot just 26.1 percent from the field in the first half.

The defense has been a strength of the program in recent years and kept the Gators in the game early. The seniors anchored the defense on Saturday, knowing that it could keep the team in the game when shots weren't falling.

"We've been through it," Yegeute said on the post game radio show. "We lost some games early in our careers when we're thinking about a break and being with our family for Christmas. Sometimes we let games slip away. Tonight we did a really good job of staying together, believing in each other and guarding."

It took less than 12 minutes in the second half for Florida to match its first half total of 23. Casey Prather was named the MVP of the Orange Bowl Classic after posting a game-high 16 points.

The offense got jumpstarted when it started to attack the paint. Florida was bigger and stronger than Fresno State and took advantage of those areas. The Gators outrebounded Fresno State 47-24 while pulling down 20 offensive rebounds.

Florida outscored the Bulldogs 34-16 in the paint and 20-6 on second chance points.

"We knew we were bigger than them," Yeguete said. "We really focused on rebounding the ball and did a good job. We really rebounded the ball well."

The Gators are off for Christmas before returning home to host Savannah State on December 29.

Fightin Gators Top Stories