I don’t know what it is, but Florida basketball ate their Wheaties this morning and came to the TD Arena in downtown Charleston to work.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 20 points and 11 rebounds to help lead Florida basketball to a 78-58 pasting of Miami in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic in South Carolina.
The win puts Florida in the finals where they will face the winner of UConn-Xavier to be played later today. The championship game is Sunday night.
Blackshear’s performance came a game after he was ejected for throwing an elbow in the first-round game against St. Joseph’s.
But, whatever is in the water in Charleston, the Gators should bottle up and keep for the rest of the season.
Against the Hurricanes, Florida shot an astounding 53.6% from the field on 30-of-56 shooting while they were 10-of-19 from 3-point range for 52.6%.
It was the first game of the season where Florida basketball shot better than 50% from the field. Their previous best was 43.6% in their last outing against St. Joseph’s.
The story was even more telling from distance.
The Gators had not shot better than 31.8% from 3-point range heading into the game against Miami. This time, they took slightly fewer shots and had a much better conversion rate.
For his part, guard Andrew Nembhard stopped shooting ill-advised shots and started dishing the ball out more — to the tune of nine assists for Florida basketball.
The Gators also stepped things up defensively, outrebounding the Hurricanes 38-21 overall and 28-21 on the defensive glass. The defense also caused 14 Miami turnovers and had eight steals on the day.
All told, the effort seemed much cleaner for Florida basketball as they were smarter from the field — didn’t take any shots they really didn’t have to — and found a way to dominate Miami on the boards.
Florida basketball awaits the winner of Xavier-UConn in Sunday’s championship game.