Freshman guard Noah Locke scored a game-high 15 points to lead the Florida Gators past the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 77-56 on Saturday in a game that was part of the annual Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.
Senior shooting guard Jalen Hudson added 14 points for Florida (7-4) as the Gators shot 36.7 percent on 3-pointers (11-of-30). Locke made 5-of-9 on 3-pointers, and Hudson converted on 4-of-9.
Senior center Kevarrius Hayes posted 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Gators. He made 5-of-5 shots from the floor and 2-of-2 from the line on a night of perfect shooting.
Sophomore guard Deaundrae Ballard was the fourth Gators player who scored in double figures, adding 11 points.
It was no wonder the Gators shot so well — they have played in this tournament 20 times, posting a 17-3 record.
Meanwhile, Florida Gulf Coast (5-9) was led by sophomore forward Troy Baxter Jr., who had 13 points and a team-high-tying seven rebounds, and Schadrac Casimir, a redshirt-senior guard who added 10 points.
Casimir scored over 1,000 points at Iona before transferring to FGCU for this final season.
Florida never trailed in the game as Locke hit the Gators’ first two shots - both 3-pointers. Florida Gulf Coast kept it close for a while, trailing 26-22 with 4:20 left in the first half. But the Gators closed the half on an 18-4 run, and they went into the break with a 37-26 lead.
Florida shot 44.4 percent on 3-pointers and had a 21-6 edge in points on turnovers during that first half. The Eagles shot just 1-of-5 on 3-pointers and 33.3 percent overall in the first half.
The second half was never much of a contest as Florida Gulf Coast shot just 2-of-14 on 3-pointers (14.3 percent) for the game.
—Field Level Media