Ga­tors romp by 42 in opener

Grad­u­ate trans­fer Koule­chov scores 34 in UF de­but.

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS -

Egor Koule­chov scored 34 points, hit­ting six 3-point­ers in his Florida de­but, to lead the eighth-ranked Ga­tors to a 116-74 vic­tory against Gard­ner-Webb in the team’s sea­son opener Mon­day night in Gainesville.

Koule­chov, a grad­u­ate trans­fer from Rice, broke the school record for most points in a de­but. Tom Bax­ley held the pre­vi­ous mark, scor­ing 32 points against Rick Barry and Miami in 1962. Florida ended up los­ing that game af­ter Bax­ley fouled out in over­time.

Koule­chov and the Ga­tors had no is­sues against Gard­ner-Webb (0-2). Koule­chov added five re­bounds and five as­sists.

Florida hit 10 3-point­ers in the first half, in­clud­ing five by Koule­chov (who fin­ished 6 of 9 on 3-point­ers). He made con­sec­u­tive 3-point­ers from the cor­ner to put the Ga­tors up 34-19 early. The new­comer nick­named “Three-gor” had 23 points at the break.

“I’m happy this day kind of came,” Koule­chov said. “I’ve been wait­ing for this since I de­cided to come here. It’s a great en­vi­ron­ment, a great pro­gram. It’s a lot of fun, es­pe­cially when you win.”

Koule­chov is a key ad­di­tion in coach Mike White’s third sea­son, one that be­gan with high ex­pec­ta­tions af­ter the Ga­tors fin­ished one vic­tory short of mak­ing the Fi­nal Four in March.

“He’s a re­ally good shooter,” White said of Koule­chov. “Can we count on him go­ing 6 of 9 ev­ery night? Prob­a­bly not.”

Koule­chov, KeVaughn Allen, se­nior Chris Chiozza and Vir­ginia Tech trans­fer Jalen Hud­son give the Ga­tors their deep­est back­court in years — and enough out­side shoot­ing to make them a threat ev­ery game.

Chiozza, who sprained his left shoul­der in an ex­hi­bi­tion game 11 days ago, came off the bench Mon­day night and looked far from rusty.

Hud­son added 16 points, and fresh­man Mike Okauru scored 13.

D J Laster led the Run­nin’ Bull­dogs, who got $80,000 to play the game, with 19 points and 10 re­bounds.

The Ga­tors dom­i­nated early and opened up a 40-point lead mid­way through the se­cond half. Florida coasted from there and won its 27th con­sec­u­tive opener.

The Ga­tors have em­braced lofty goals of mak­ing another deep run in the NCAA Tour­na­ment, and the opener will only raise ex­pec­ta­tions.

With Koule­chov, this also could be Florida’s best shoot­ing team since former coach Billy Dono­van’s back-to-back cham­pi­onship teams.

Mor­gan State 63, South Florida 53: LaPri McCrayPace scored 15 points as Mor­gan State (1-1) de­feated South Florida (1-1).

Af­ter los­ing at Bing­ham­ton on Fri­day, the Bears flew to Tampa and took charge early, build­ing 32-26 ad­van­tage by in­ter­mis­sion.

Phillip Carr and Martez Cameron each con­trib­uted 10 points and Tyjhai By­ers grabbed nine re­bounds as Mor­gan State handed the Bulls their first loss af­ter giv­ing first-year coach Brian Gre­gory a win in his de­but when Stephan Jiggets hit a jumper with 12 sec­onds left to beat Florida At­lantic.

Mor­gan State hit 20 of 50 from the field (40 per­cent) and was 5 of 12 on 3-point­ers.

South Florida got 13 points from Ter­rence Sa­muel and 11 from Tulio Da Silva.

South Florida shot 34.8 per­cent from the field (16 of 46), in­clud­ing 4 of 16 on 3-point­ers.

SEAN M. HAF­FEY / GETTY IM­AGES

The Yan­kees’ Aaron Judge led the Amer­i­can League with 52 homers, the most ever by a rookie. He’s also a fi­nal­ist for the league’s MVP award.

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