The seventh-ranked Gators made a school record 13 first half threes to build a 58-39 lead at the break. They never looked back, defeating Stanford 108-87 in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland.
The Cardinal are still without key veterans Dorian Pickens and Marcus Sheffield, who are sidelined with foot injuries. Freshman Kezie Okpala is also out with academic issues. Stanford is still adapting to life without these key pieces, none of which are expected back in the near term.
Florida was without a pair of talented big men, and Reid Travis exploited that nicely. On the night, he dropped 23 points on just 12 shots, going 10-11 from the stripe. He continues to show that he is one of the premier post players in all of the college game, and has yet to have a bad game this season.
Mike White’s Gators wanted to play fast, and for much of the game the Cardinal kept pace. They were able to run effectively, and scored a number of buckets before Florida’s defense was fully set. This was particularly important in a lineup where both Travis and Humphrey were out, as that group had a far easier time finding shots in transition than in the half court.
Point Guard Play
It wasn’t perfect, and there were still too many turnovers, but the point guard play may have been the best of this early season. Daejon Davis was able to get in the lane seemingly at will and had 7 points and 6 assists by the break. He was playing with an extra level of confidence in this game, and continues to grow up before our eye. Cartwright also provided a much-needed spark off the bench, ultimately dropping 17 points, while snatching three steals and dishing out 4 assists. This position will be particularly important in determining the Cardinal’s trajectory this season.
Three Point Defense
This is nothing new for the Cardinal; their three point defense is appalling. Florida ultimately cooled off to only shoot 68% from the three point line. Yes, that was them cooling off. It was clear it would be a tough matchup, with Rice transfer Egor Koulechov coming off a year in which he shot 47% from distance. The Russian senior made all five of his attempts on the night. To their credit, Stanford’s perimeter defense did improve, to where the three point attempts did get more difficult. That didn’t seem to matter much to the Gators on this night.
The bench has gotten a lot shorter than expected. The Cardinal only had twelve scholarship players to begin with, and three are out indefinitely. In the first half, Kodye Pugh went down with an apparent injury and didn’t return until much later in the game. For a time, that left just three healthy scholarship reserves, one being Trevor Stanback, who Haase is not keen on playing. With only three healthy scholarship guards, walk-on Blake Pagon ultimately logged thirteen minutes.
It’s still early in the season, and the Cardinal are starting three true freshmen, but they have been far too sloppy thus far. On the night, Stanford racked up 18 turnovers, including 6 from Daejon Davis and 5 from Reid Travis. The biggest thing with Reid Travis is where he is catching the ball. In the night game, Gonzaga showed a real dedication to getting the ball to their big men in post position. Stanford needs to take a page from their book. Travis is far more lethal when he catches the ball in deep than when he attempts to drive in from the perimeter.
The Cardinal look to bounce back tonight against the Ohio State Buckeyes at 6 PST.