GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - KeVaughn Allen bounced back in a big way from his first scoreless outing in three years.
Allen had 14 points after getting shut out in the season opener and led Florida to a 76-46 victory over Charleston Southern on Friday night.
“When he gets going, he gets the whole team going because he doesn’t talk much but he shows up with his play, his energy and all that,” teammate Keith Stone said.
Allen scored 11 of the team’s first 28 points and hit a 3-pointer to start the second half. The senior made 6 of 11 shots, including 2 of 6 from 3-point range, and added a career-high five steals in Florida’s home opener.
His performance was just what the Gators (1-1) needed after a lopsided loss at Florida State three days earlier. The 17th-ranked Seminoles beat the Gators in every facet of the game, winning 81-60 and it could have been worse.
“I thought they were very hungry,” Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “After I saw the Florida State game the other night, I knew this would be a really tough time to play a Mike White team. I knew he would have them ready. I knew we were in for a tough time against a very angry, ready-to-play team.”
Allen had scored in 85 straight games before the opener. He last failed to score as a freshman.
Allen made Florida’s first three baskets and then picked up a steal and an assist on a behind-the-back pass to Deaundrae Ballard.
“I think KeVaughn Allen set the tone for us from the tip,” White said. “I thought he was our best player tonight. He was terrific, played with a different level of aggression offensively and I think he got himself going defensively. But he led us with his effort.”
Ballard finished with 12 points for Florida. Point guard Andrew Nembhard added seven points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and one turnover in his home debut. Fellow freshman Noah Locke chipped in eight points, and Jalen Hudson had 10.
Christian Keeling led Charleston Southern with 18 points on 5-of-17 shooting. Dontrelle Shuler added 11. The Bucs kept it close for a while, until missing 14 consecutive shots.
Allen said going scoreless barely affected him - no surprise given his quiet, laid-back nature.
But teammates, coaches and even his opponent figured it had to be a motivating factor.
“I’m sure he was challenged the minute he got on the bus in Tallahassee.”” Radebaugh said.
Charleston Southern: The Buccaneers played their first of three road games against Power 5 teams. They still have Marquette and Clemson remaining, payday games that help fund the program.
Florida: The Gators needed a feel-good victory after a 21-point loss at rival Florida State earlier in the week. Still, they have to be more consistent to have success with one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules.
Former Florida players Casey Prather and Kasey Hill, who helped the Gators reach the Final Four in 2014, sat courtside and got a rousing ovation.
Charleston Southern hosts South Carolina State on Tuesday.
Florida hosts La Salle next Wednesday.
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