Few teams have looked as impressive this season as No. 7 Florida, which will receive its first real test Friday against No. 17 Gonzaga in the semifinals of the PK80 Invitational at Portland, Ore. The Gators shot a season-high 58.5 percent from the field in Thursday’s 108-87 victory over Stanford while Gonzaga cruised to an 86-59 win over Ohio State.
Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza recorded his first double-double of the season against Stanford with 14 points, a career-high 11 assists and four steals as the Gators scored at least 100 points for the third time in four games. Graduate transfer forward Egor Koulechov made all five of his 3-point attempts and finished with 26 points for the Gators, who played without starting center Kevarrius Hayes. The 6-9 junior, averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, was suspended for violating team rules but will be available to face Gonzaga. The Zags boast an impressive frontcourt led by 6-10 sophomore Killian Tillie and 6-9 senior Johnathan Williams, who scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting against Ohio State.
TV: 11 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT FLORIDA (4-0): Junior wing Jalen Hudson made four 3-pointers and scored 17 points against Stanford as the Gators displayed an explosive offense with six players scoring at least nine points. Freshmen Mike Okauru and Deaundre Ballard combined for 28 points for the Gators, who are shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 46.8 percent from beyond the arc. “It’s probably the most talented offensive group I’ve played with,” Chiozza told reporters. “Someone said like an AAU team, just a bunch of guys who can score the ball and put them on one team. It’s fun to watch.”
ABOUT GONZAGA (4-0): The Zags were picked to finish second behind Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference but have looked as good as ever early this season with four convincing victories. Junior point guard Josh Perkins turned in a dominant performance against Ohio State, finishing with 20 points while shooting 6-of-9 from 3-point range. The frontcourt includes sophomore Rui Hachimura and freshman Corey Kispert, who has averaged 11.3 points and five rebounds while starting all four games.
1. The winner advances to face Duke or Texas in Sunday’s championship game of the Motion Bracket, while the loser falls to the third-place game.
2. The teams last met at the AdvoCare Invitational in Florida on Nov. 25, 2016, when Gonzaga rallied for a 77-72 victory.
3. Gonzaga is 32-8 under coach Mark Few in tournaments during the week of Thanksgiving.
PREDICTION: Florida 82, Gonzaga 77