DALLAS — This Florida basketball team has been a hard one to predict throughout this up-and-down season, but if ever there was a time for the Gators to be fully locked-in, its now.
Looking to build on its run to the Elite 8 last year, No. 6-seeded Florida takes on No. 11 St. Bonaventure at approximately 10:16 ET Thursday night at American Airlines Center.
Follow along here for live updates and analysis.
Florida-St. Bonaventure live updates, score
Florida 62, St. Bonaventure 39, 6:43, 2nd half: The Gators are in full victory lap mode. A put-back slam and free throw from Jalen Hudson and a fastbreak dunk from Egor Koulechov have punctuated the Gators’ dominant second half. They’re shooting 56 percent for the half while taking all suspense out of this one. Hudson is up to 15 points after scoring just 2 in the first half.
No. 3-seeded Texas Tech will await Saturday.
Florida 45, St. Bonaventure 31, 12:21, 2nd half: Florida continues to deliver on the offensive end, now shooting 53.3 percent for the half, to maintain its comfortable-ish margin. Egor Koulechov up to 13 points to lead the way. Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer for the season, is a quiet 0-for-2 from the field with 7 free throws.
Florida 36, St. Bonaventure 24, 15:53, 2nd half: Overall, Gators went on a 15-0 run from final stretch of first half to start of second half. St. Bonaventure looking punchless. Florida suddenly looking somewhat comfortable with 12-point lead.
Florida 34, St. Bonaventure 22, 18:02, 2nd half: Well, that’s more like it. The Gators look rejuvenated in the second half already. KeVaughn Allen drained a corner 3 (his first points after starting 0 for 6) on Florida’s first shot after halftime, Egor Koulechov made a layup off a nice feed from Chris Chiozza and later Chiozza turned his own steal into a fastbreak layup. Just like that, a 7-0 run and a more comfortable lead.
Florida 27, St. Bonaventure 22, halftime: As bad as Florida is shooting, the Gators are playing swarming defense, getting a lot of hands on the ball and in general frustrating St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies shot just 26.1 percent (6 of 23) in the first half, 1 of 11 from 3-point range and had 6 turnovers.
The Gators, meanwhile, shot 29 percent, which is why this remains such a close game. They may regret not creating more separation with Bonnies senior leader Jaylen Adams limited to 10 minutes and 3 points in the first half after picking up his third foul.
The Gators had plenty of chances to create more separation too, all through the half and again in the final minute. Chris Chiozza forced another turnover from Matt Mobley with sticky defense, but Egor Koulechov missed a tough layup on the other end and Keith Stone missed a 3 after an offensive rebound.
Koulechov leads Florida with 8 points, but Jalen Hudson, Chris Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen are a combined 1 of 14 from the field and 0 for 10 from 3. That is very concerning, given this team’s history of going ice cold offensively.
Florida is letting an underdog hang around, which is generally dangerous.
Mike White normally very composed and has great answers during on-court interviews. He seemed more than a little frazzled there with the broadcast crew.
— Thomas Goldkamp (@ThomasGoldkamp) March 16, 2018
Florida 27, St. Bonaventure 22, 1:15, 1st half: The Gators have some offensive life. Mike Okauru snapped the 0-for-11 shooting funk with a 3-pointer, and Egor Koulechov just drained another to put Florida back in control. That said, the Gators are still shooting just 31 percent overall while the Bonnies are shooting 27.3 percent.
Florida 21, St. Bonaventure 21, 3:05, 1st half: Florida has missed its last 11 shots and is shooting 26.9 percent for the game, including just 3 of 16 from 3-point range (Jalen Hudson 0 for 5 from 3). We’ve seen these stretches before from the Gators, and it’s usually doomed them. This is a tied game with a lot of time left to get it turned around. St. Bonaventure is on a 12-1 run, but the Bonnies are only shooting 31.6 percent themselves.
Florida 20, St. Bonaventure 19, 4:55, 1st half: A fastbreak dunk from Matt Mobley off a long feed from Amadi Ikpeze has added to the momentum swing. The Bonnies are coming to life, and so is the crowd behind them. St. Bonaventure is on a 10-0 run while Florida has missed its last 9 shots.
Florida 20, St. Bonaventure 16, 6:43, 1st half: Matt Mobley hit a long 3 to give St. Bonaventure some much-needed points and the Bonnies are now on a 7-0 run while Florida has missed its last 6 shots. Jalen Hudson is 0-for-3 from 3-point range for the Gators, who need him to find his groove. He had just 8 points in the SEC Tournament loss to Arkansas, and Florida is 1-5 in games in which Hudson scores in single-digits.
Florida 20, St. Bonaventure 11, 8:30, 1st half: St. Bonaventure’s much-ballyhooed senior guards just haven’t gotten it going yet. Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams have combined for 1-of-7 shooting and 6 points. Adams, the team’s leading scorer, has also already picked up 3 fouls.
Florida 14, St. Bonaventure 7, 11:58, 1st half: St. Bonaventure continues to be sloppy with the ball and the shots are starting to fall for Florida.
Jalen Hudson hit a smooth mid-range jumper, Keith Stone drained a 3-pointer, Mike Okauru got to the line for two good free throws and Stone is now heading to the stripe, looking to continue this 7-0 run.
It’s early, but I expected a little more spunk from the Bonnies.
Meanwhile, not a huge Florida cheering section in the arena tonight.
Aside from patches elsewhere, this is the bulk of the #Gators fan turnout tonight in Dallas. Thought there might be more after how well Florida fans came out for football opener here in the fall. pic.twitter.com/q6kb5mrJhf
— Ryan Young (@RyanYoungSEC) March 16, 2018
Florida 7, St. Bonaventure 5, 14:49 1st half: The Gators are getting decent looks offensively, but they’re not converting as much as they’d like. That said, it’s early, and their defense has already forced St. Bonaventure into two bad turnovers.
Also, Egor Koulechov had a nice stretch, draining a corner 3-pointer after that second turnover and then grabbing a tough rebound on the other end. He’s 2-for-3 for 5 points so far, after finishing 2-of-11 for 8 points in the Gators’ SEC Tournament loss to Arkansas.
Quite simply, the Gators need at least two and probably three of Chris Chiozza, Jalen Hudson, Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen clicking.
Florida-St. Bonaventure game time, information
The Gators and Bonnies are tentatively set to tip off at 9:57 p.m. ET Thursday in Dallas, though that game time could be pushed back if the previous game in the arena runs long.
The game will be televised on truTV, with Spero Dedes as the play-by-play announcer, Steve Smith and Len Elmore as the analysts and Ros Gold-Onwude as the in-game reporter.
The game can be streamed online via the March Madness App.
Florida-St. Bonaventure preview
Florida’s coaching staff has sought to leverage the notion that the Gators are a prime upset target due to their inconsistency this season.
It started when analyst Seth Davis immediately picked the Gators to lose during the live selection show Sunday night on TBS, not even knowing if they’d be facing UCLA or St. Bonaventure yet.
The Bonnies (26-7) defeated the Bruins, 65-58, in a First Four matchup Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, took a 2 a.m. flight that night to Dallas and turned the focus to Florida (20-12)
The Gators came out flat in their last game, losing 80-72 to Arkansas in the SEC quarterfinals, but before that they had posted three straight impressive wins over fellow NCAA tourney teams Auburn, Alabama and Kentucky.
St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, has won 14 of its last 15 games while setting a program single-season record for wins. The Bonnies are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 and are led by senior guards Jaylen Adams (19.4 points per game) and Matt Mobley (18.4 PPG).
Florida is also led by its backcourt with point guard Chris Chiozza (11.2 points per game, 6.1 assists per game), Jalen Hudson (15.3 PPG), Egor Koulechov (13.6 PPG) and KeVaughn Allen (11.3 PPG) the keys for the Gators.
Here is a roundup of SEC Country’s pregame coverage:
- Jalen Hudson’s path to Florida and why he is so important for Gators
- Florida coaches made video montage of critics’ comments for motivation
- Florida’s familiarity with St. Bonaventure helps with short prep time
- Mike White hoping hard-to-read Gators ‘have another positive chapter in us’
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