Ev­ery­thing’s per­fect for fresh­man Nem­b­hard

His 9-for-9 shoot­ing a key fac­tor in vic­tory

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By John Zenor

Florida Christ Koumadje had rea­son to be smil­ing Satur­day as his dou­ble-dou­ble helped Florida State win.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An­drew Nem­b­hard couldn’t miss and for a while Alabama couldn’t hit.

Florida’s fresh­man star Nem­b­hard scored a ca­reer-high 21 points with­out miss­ing a shot and the Ga­tors pounded the Crim­son Tide 71-53 on Satur­day in what was eas­ily their most lop­sided road win of the year.

The Ga­tors (14-11, 6-6 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence) held the Tide (15-10, 6-6) with­out a field goal for nearly eight min­utes to start the game.

“We did a pretty good job of dic­tat­ing some tempo de­fen­sively,” Florida coach Mike White said. “If this be­came a track meet, we wouldn’t have had a chance.”

His team then fought off a sec­ond-half rally at­tempt be­fore it be­came too wor­ri­some.

Nem­b­hard, whose pre­vi­ous scor­ing high was 13 points, made all nine of field-goal at­tempts, in­clud­ing a pair of 3-point­ers. He came in shoot­ing 38 per­cent.

“The more I’m in the gym, the more my con­fi­dence builds up,” he said. “Coach likes to help me a lot.”

Key­on­tae John­son had

14 points and 13 re­bounds for the Ga­tors, who shot 54 per­cent from the floor. KeVaughn Allen added 13 points.

Kira Lewis Jr., like Nem­b­hard a fresh­man five-star re­cruit, led Alabama with 14 points. Donta Hall and John Petty each scored 10 points.

“They took it to us from the start,” Tide coach Avery John­son said. “They threw the first punch and we stum­bled ba­si­cally for the rest of the game.

“We tried to make a lit­tle bit of a run there — I think we cut it down to eight — but they were al­ways in con­trol of the game.”

The Tide re­bounded from that open­ing field­goal drought to shoot 44 per­cent. But Alabama made just 10 of 22 freethrow at­tempts and wound up with only one point more than its sea­son low for a game.

The Ga­tors took a 51-34 lead on Jalen Hud­son’s

3-pointer with 13:17 left. Alabama man­aged to cut it to sin­gle dig­its a few min­utes later with an 8-0 spurt.

The Tide rally fiz­zled with missed shots on a pair of chances to pull to within five or six, and Nem­b­hard fol­lowed with a bas­ket and free throw to effectively end the threat.

DANNY KARNIK/AP

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