FLORIDA BASKETBALL: Gators have strength in reserves

Hide caption Florida center John Egbunu reacts after fouling Alabama guard Corban Collins during the second half of a college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Florida won 80-67. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS / BRYNN ANDERSON Bench players help team navigate through fatigue and foul trouble


On a night when Alabama blanketed and frustrated Florida leading scorer KeVaughn Allen, the Gators needed other players to step up.

But No. 23 Florida has been a team that’s managed to get production all season from its bench. It was no different during UF’s 80-67 win over the Tide on Tuesday night at Coleman Coliseum.

Florida outscored Alabama 41-17 in bench points, led by 14 points from redshirt freshman Keith Stone and 13 points from senior forward Canyon Barry. Florida junior center John Egbunu made all three of his field goal attempts from the floor in the second half and finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes.

Who: Georgia vs. No. 23 Florida

Where: Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center


"We’re not a one-person dominant team," Florida senior point guard Kasey Hill said. "Everyone can step up, offensively and defensively."

Florida’s bench has helped the Gators navigate through fatigue and foul trouble during the first 16 games of the 2016-17 season. The Gators are averaging 29.3 points off the bench through their first four SEC games and 28.3 bench points for the season.

"If one guy falls down, there’s going to be another person right there to pick them up or come in and take his spot at all times," Stone said.

Stone was that person Tuesday night. Florida coach Mike White turned to him early in the first half due to Justin Leon’s foul trouble and brought him back into the game in the second half to try to provide a spark offensively. Stone responded by scoring nine of his 14 points in the second half, including a pair of 3-pointers that helped UF erase a six-point deficit.

"He’s becoming more and more consistent," White said. "He’s made a jump defensively and on the glass but offensively, he’s one of our more talented guys. He’s got great feel and tempo, he doesn’t get sped up, the moment never gets too big for him."Stone made all three of his 3-point attempts and finished 4 of 6 from the floor. Hill said Florida players pressed Stone to play with confidence after passing up an open look from beyond the 3-point line in the first half."When he didn’t take one in the first half, everyone was yelling, shoot the ball," Hill said. "He can score, he can help us a whole bunch of ways. I’m very proud of him, and he’s going to help us a lot."Barry, meanwhile, has been Florida’s mainstay off the bench throughout the season. The 6-foot-6 swingman is averaging 16 points off the bench his last three games and 11.9 points for the season.Barry has shown improvement on both ends of the floor of late, which has allowed him to stay […]