Gators romp by 42 in opener
Graduate transfer Koulechov scores 34 in UF debut.
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.
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.