GAINESVILLE -- It was a pretty good debut for the new-look Florida Gators basketball team. Florida beat Division II Flagler 97-51 in the Gators' first exhibition game of the season.
Freshman Nick Calathes, a two-time prep Mr. Basketball, was two assists shy of a triple-double and Florida's five freshmen scored in double figures.
"We don't have one guy you can key on, so that's going to help us," Calathes said. "I'm happy with the way our team played; everyone can knock down a three and everyone can do everything."
For one night--one exhibition night--Calathes did nearly everything. He finished the game with 18 points (two three-pointers), 13 rebounds, eight assists and one steal.
Sophomore Marreese Speights led the Gators with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Chandler Parsons, Calathes' high school teammate at Winter Park Lake Howell, scored 18 points, including 3-of-5 from the behind the arc. Adam Allen scored 10 points, Jai Lucas had 11 and Alex Tyus had 12.
"It felt like we had everything going," Parsons said. "We were hitting from every angle."
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Amazing play with 3:10 left. Quick passing from Calathes to Parsons to Speights for a lay-up. Florida 89, Flagler 50; 2:40.
Triple-double alert: Calathes has 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Florida 87, Saints 50; 3:43. Calathes is causing match-up problems for Flagler. Wonder if it will translate to Division I-A competition.
Hodge drives to the basket for a three-point play. Could have done without the post-play mocking, though. Flagler is Division II. Florida 83, Flagler 43; 6:06 after a steal and score by Nick "If You Got a Problem, Yo I'll Solve It" Calathes.
Parsons whips a pass inside to Calathes for an easy lay-up. These guys had pretty good chemistry before they even arrived in Gainesville. Annoying Florida cheer now during a timeout giving me a headache. But we do have dancers! Florida 78, Flagler 43; 7:29.
Gotta feel bad for Flagler's play-by-play guy this season with names like these: Bryan Borstelman, Lyndon Merthie, Ben De La Cruz and John Pietkiewicz. Speights is dominating the inside now (nine boards). He just scored four straight points. He now has 20. Calathes back in. Maybe he can get a triple-double in his first game, although it is only an exhibition game. Florida 75, Flagler 43; 8:39
Timeout. Hooray dancers. And my mouth is blue from this cupcake. Looks like I ate a smurf.
Parsons drains his third three-pointer of the game. Parsons The Skinny can shoot! Florida 66, Flagler 37; 12:13. Winter Park Lake Howell must have been pretty good with Calathes and Parsons.
Triple-double alert! Calathes has 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Alley-oop, Tyus from Calathes. Tyus screaming as he dunks it home. Pretty sure you're going to hear that call a few times in the next three years. Florida 63, Flagler 47; 14:20.
Allen follows Parsons' trey with a three-pointer of his own. Adam Allen, by they way, is the King of Panhandle Hoops. Florida 57, Saints of Flagler 34. Allen is from Milton, Fla. Not much in Milton but hay and horses.
Parsons scores the Gators' first three-pointer of the second half after a nice quick-out by Lucas. Florida doesn't have a Lee Humphrey this season but it seems they have more players as a whole whom can hit from outside.
The best thing about halftime? Cupcakes, of course. Chocolate with blue icing. In related news, Calathes is having his way with cupcake Flagler. Nice dish inside to Allen for a quick field goal. Florida 51, Flagler 31; 17:18.
Starting line-up for second half: Calathes, Lucas, Werner, Allen, Speights.
Quick halftime stats: Speights (14); Calathes (9); Chandler (8); Tyus (6); Lucas, Hodge, Allen (3).
Calathes running the point now just before the end of the first half...Calathes holds for the last shot...spinning, left-handed, missing...HALFTIME: Florida 46, Flagler 26; Yeah, more dancers!!!
Four freshman (Allen, Tyus, Parsons, Calathes) and Hodge on the court now. Allen for three, shaking away those "country" nerves. Florida 45, Flagler 21; 2:40.
This Parsons kid might be skinny but he's plenty tough. Parsons fakes from the outside and drives to the hoop for a three-point play.
Joining Parsons in the thin department is Marreese Speights, who lost about 20 pounds in the off-season. Pretty sure the extra quickness will do Speights well this season.
Parsons The Skinny now hits a three. This is getting ridiculous. Speights hits inside to give Florida a 16-0 run. Florida 39, Flagler 19; 3:58.
Calathes bangs down another three-pointer. Vanilla Ice is on fire...wait, that makes no sense. Florida 34, Flagler 17; 5:52. Calathes' calm demeanor on the court is a good sign for the Gators. They're going to need Calathes to contribute immediately this season. He has nine points in 15 minutes so far.
Calathes drains the first three-pointer of his career; followed by a Tyus block and a Walter Hodge three. Ah, the memories of last season...Florida 29, Flagler 17; 6:38.
Jai Lucas scores the first field goal of his career...and then hustles down the court to commit the second silly foul of his career. If Lucas is going to run the point this season, he's going to have to learn to conserve his fouls, a Taurean Green specialty. Florida 23, Flagler 16; 7:57.
This might be some kind of weird record: Flagler's five now features players with jersey numbers of 55, 22 and 33. Speights makes a lay-up, breaking a three-and-half minute scoring drought by the Gators; Florida 19, Saints 11; 8:36.
I just figured out who Nick Calathes looks like: South Florida's finest, Vanilla Ice.
Jai Lucas (5-11, 155) takes a charge. Terrible call but nice effort from your new point guard.
Allen misses two free throws, a little "country" nervous, I suppose: Florida 16-11; 11:02.
Florida freshman forward Adam Allen in the game now. They tell me he's "country strong." A lot of "country strong" guys in the game now: six by my count or three for each team. This might be a modern-day NCAA record. Checking the record books...yep.
Florida freshman Chandler Parsons in the game and he just scored a put-back, the first points of his career. Parsons might be the skinniest college basketball since Manute Bol, Florida 14-7; 13:19. (Did Manute even play college hoops?)
What's the best part about preseason basketball? There's a TV in front of me airing the Va. Tech vs. Ga. Tech football game. (The battle of the Techs!) In related news: Nice technical pass from Calathes to Alex Tyus for an alley oop! And now a dunk from Tyus: Florida 11-4.
Calathes scores two straight baskets, Florida leads 7-2 and now a timeout (Yeah, dance team!!!). Calathes looks pretty good but not as good as the dancers shaking it on the floor right now.
Trivia question: Who scored the first points of the exhibition season for the Gators: Marreese Speights, nice inside move, plus a foul.
Oh, yeah. Florida is playing...Flagler, whomever that is. Flagler's fight name is the Saints, as in, Saints need divine intervention to beat Florida.
Florida's staring line-up: Freshman swingman Nick Calathes, freshman point guard Jai Lucas, center Marreese Speights, sophomore shooting guard Walter Hodge and sophomore forward Dan Werner.
The season's first question: How long until Dan Werner is benched?