Gators start slow but finish strong and beat Fresno State 66-49

The Florida Gators kept making Fresno State miss, and kept grabbing rebounds.

Eventually, Florida started to sink some shots, too, and that’s when they started to pull away.

Make no mistake, though, 16th ranked Florida won this game with defense Saturday, allowing its lowest point total of the season to beat Fresno State 66-49.

Florida held the Bulldogs to 32-percent shooting, a season-best by the Gators. Fresno State went 4 for 17 from 3-point range, including a basket from near midcourt at the final buzzer. “This was probably our best game defensively from start to finish,” Gators coach Billy Donovan said. “I was happy with the way we guarded. They weren’t able to score quickly on us. They had to go deep into the shot clock.”

Senior Casey Prather scored 16 points as the Gators pulled away in the second half at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise. Guard Scottie Wilbekin added 11 points and Will Yeguete finished with nine points and 10 rebounds for the Gators. “The most underrated guy tonight was Will,” Donovan said. “He (Yeguete) was awesome.”

Patric Young added eight points and nine rebounds and Kasey Hill and Dorian Finney-Smith contributed seven points apiece for the Gators. Fresno State’s Cezar Guerrero scored 17 points to lead the Bulldogs. Marvelle Harris and Paul Watson added 10 points apiece for the Bulldogs, who shot 32 percent from the field, including 4-for-17 from 3-point range.The Gators shot 29 percent from the floor in the first half, including 1-for-13 from 3-point range, but still managed to take a 23-19 lead into the break. Florida held the Bulldogs without a field goal for the first four minutes of the second half to extend its advantage to 33-21.Shots continued to fall for the Gators in the second half as they made seven of their first 10 to maintain a 12-point lead with just under 13 minutes remaining. Florida dominated the rebounding, owning a 47-24 edge with 20 offensive rebounds.

Gators will host Savannah State on Sunday, December 29 at 3:00 pm.