Pat Dooley’s quick reactions to Florida’s authoritative win over South Carolina

For the first time in this conference season, Florida’s men’s basketball team finally had a game where its fans could relax a little.

The Gators (now 12-8 and 5-3 in the SEC) destroyed South Carolina 81-60 for the Gators’ fifth win in the last six games. There was no point where fans had any fear when it came to who was in control of this one.

South Carolina is now 8-12 under new coach Lamont Paris and 1-6 in the SEC (with the only win coming at Rupp Arena, so go figure).

Florida putting what has been an elite defense against an offense that has struggled all year and the result was somewhat predictable.

What happened

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators started fast for the second game in a row and never let up, stifling a team that ranked near the bottom of the SEC in every offensive category. Florida never trailed, led by eight at the half and dominated the second half despite missing starter [autotag]Alex Fudge[/autotag] (concussion protocol) for the game.

Florida led from the start and the Gators were especially efficient on the offensive end, blowing the game open in the second half and getting walk-ons into the game with three minutes to play.

That was a far cry from all the close games the Gators have played in the conference.

Florida looked like a team ready for the next four-game run that is on the horizon. The Gators had five players in double figures led by [autotag]Colin Castleton[/autotag]’s 18 points.

What it means

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I like to call games like this one against the Gamecocks less of a “must-win” and more of a “must-not-lose”. The Gators’ NET ranking will likely drop after a win, because South Carolina’s ranking was so low. But at this point, you just have to win a game like this. Let’s face it, the season will be defined in the next four games. All of them are against teams in the top 35 of the NET, three of them on the road.

Player of the Game: South Carolina

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, GG Jackson is going to be an NBA player and had 20 points and 10 rebounds. But the freshman also went 7-for-18 from the floor. The guy who gave Florida the most trouble when the game was competitive was center Josh Gray, who finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Player of the Game: Florida

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

[autotag]Myreon Jones[/autotag] has been coming on recently and the game Wednesday night was a great example. He was a miserable 3-for-10 from the field and didn’t make a three. But he came this close to a triple-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Inside the numbers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida had 21 assists — a season-high. Florida had five turnovers. It’s difficult to lose games with a plus-15 on turnover-to-assist ratio. Certainly, the opposition had something to do with it, but these Gators are playing at a level we did not see early in the season.

He said it

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

“I knew I was close to (a triple-double) with about 12 minutes to go. That’s why I didn’t get it, because I was focused on it.” — Myreon Jones

Next up

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Florida plays an emotional game Saturday against Kansas State and [autotag]Keyontae Johnson[/autotag]. Johnson is averaging 18.3 points a game for the fifth-ranked Wildcats who are now 17-2 on the season. Johnson, of course, played for Florida before collapsing in Tallahassee in 2020. The game is part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge weekend and will be on ESPN2. It’s another first in a year of firsts for Golden. More importantly, it’s another shot at a Quad 1 win.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire