Everything’s perfect for freshman Nembhard
His 9-for-9 shooting a key factor in victory
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.