Five takeaways from Florida basketball’s win over Arkansas Razorbacks

It may be too early in the third game of the season to say that Florida’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks was a must-win for both teams.

If it truly was, the Gators must have figured out a way to win.

Florida rolled to a 90-68 victory over the Razorbacks for UF’s first Southeastern Conference win of the year in its third try.

The Gators are now 11-5 and 1-2 in the conference with plenty of basketball left to play. The Hogs falls to 9-7 and 0-3 with a brutal schedule looking them square in the face.

With the dust settling, here is a look at five major takeaways from Florida’s big win over Arkansas.

Welcome back Riley Kugel

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

After playing only three minutes of Florida’s last game and sometimes showing the body language of someone whose dog died, Kugel looked like an All-SEC performer for the first time this season. He finished with 20 points in 25 minutes and one of his five rebounds showed so much effort that Florida coach Todd Golden exploded off the bench to shake his hand as Kugel was on the floor.

Finally a good start

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Florida was on fire in the first half with runs of 13-0 and 8-0 and led by 18 at one point. The Gators then allowed Arkansas to cut the lead to single digits. Still, despite giving up a lay-up at the end of the half, the Gators led 46-33. It was never really close in the second half, in part because the team that went into the game last in the conference in free throws made 15 of 20.

The zone was no problem

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky hurt Florida with its zone the last time the Gators played at the O-Dome. But Arkansas doesn’t quite have the length and the Gators were efficient this time. That included a great first five minutes of the second half that pretty much put the game away as Florida got up 20.

The offense worked because Tyreese Samuel played it like a fiddle in the post. Florida shot 50% in the second half.

Tyreese is the real deal

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The transfer from Seton Hall had another double-double – his seventh of the year — in front of another sellout crowd. If they treated assists like they do in hockey (you know the pass that leads to the pass that leads to a basket), he might have had seven or eight. He also made the zone pay with mid-range jumpers.

“We needed this one,” Samuel said. They did, but Samuel plays hard all the time.

So, was the defense better?

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Florida held Arkansas to 37.7% shooting and will rarely lose a game allowing 68 points and blocking seven shots. Some of that was that Arkansas struggled offensively and Florida was able to get five guys in double figures to put a stop to anything resembling a run. And Florida outrebounded the Razorbacks 48-31.

All of those things go into playing good defense.

Next up

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida returns to the road to take on the Tennessee Volunteers inside Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Read more

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire