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PORTLAND, Ore. – In time Alex Fudge boarded the team bus Friday night for the trip from Tallahassee back to Gainesville, his cell phone blowing up with text messages from Chandler Parsons, Patric Young, Joakim Noah and Will Wade, his former coach at LSU. All were in favor of the rangy, 6-foot-9 sophomore’s front-dropping dunk at Florida State.

In case you missed it—it’s hard to imagine, given the five replay angles and its spot on the SportsCenter Top 10—Fudge got a pass on the left wing from. Myreon Joneshe quickly attacked the baseline, two short dribbles worth, then he was lifted over (get this) 7-foot-4 center Naheem McLeod and used his right hand to post one of the tallest players in college basketball.

Disclaimer: Yes, the tweet below is from the UF-FSU game, so please forgive the repetition as it is appropriate.

 

“I had a dunk like that right in high school, where I just caught it on the wing and ripped it. He just threw it over some guy,” Fudge said this week. “This time, though, when I got up, I didn’t realize it was 7-4 until I was up, so I knew I had to finish it. I was like, ‘Okay.’ “

The reaction from the UF bench was little more than “Okay then.” While the Gators roared Seminoles fans were mostly sulking and sad.

“I was out of my mind,” the junior guard said Trey Bonham he said. He didn’t do anything of the sort when he did that. That was crazy.

Added UF for fifth year onwards Colin Castleton: “The best dunk I’ve ever seen live.”

The game came at the end of a furious second-half rally by Florida from 17 down at halftime to a 76-67 victory that equaled the second-largest road comeback in program history, and the Gators’ first victory over FSU in 10. years. In the bigger picture, the rally gave the team a level of energy to work with as a coach Todd GoldenUF’s first team will increase its strength.

Frankly, the Gators (3-1) need to set that energy bar higher, and maybe they will, starting Thursday, when they face Xavier (3-1) in the opening game of the Phil Knight Nike Legacy Invitational, a 16-team, bonanza of two elite basketball games to be played in downtown Portland on Thanksgiving weekend.

[Read senior writer Chris Harry’s “Pregame Stuff” setup here]

Castleton, a 6-11 standout, sparked a comeback by scoring 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, but also took big bench contributions from Bonham, Fudge and 6-11 Jason Jitoboh to start coming back.

The Gators met Wednesday following their shootout at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Photo by: Maddie Washburn

Bonham has changed Kowacie Reeves at the start of the second half and finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while giving guard Kyle Lofton a second goalkeeper to play with and without. Bonham has provided a lot of energy on the defensive end, too, and is playing trouble for FSU’s guards at the top of the Seminoles offense.

“He played with a lot of confidence and tempo,” Golden said of the Virginia Military Institute transfer. “This is the guy we were expecting to see, but we didn’t.”

UF coaches expect Bonham-like breakout seasons from others, such as Reeves and the new combo guard Riley Kugelneither of them played after halftime against FSU.

“We kept going in the second half,” Golden said.

There was no need to change.

The little guard Trey Bonhamwho had a UF career-high 11 points and seven rebounds at FSU, in PK85 practice on Wednesday.

Reeves, a 6-6 sophomore, is capable of big things, as he showed late last season by averaging 16.3 points, 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line in UF’s three games. of the postseason. So far, he’s averaging 8.5 points and 2.3 rebounds, while shooting 40.7 overall and a team-best 47.1 from deep. The numbers are good, sure, but what Golden and his staff need is consistency on both ends of the floor and a mindset focused on the next game.

The situation with Kugel is different. Arguably the purest athlete on the team, the 6-5 Kugle is just 2-for-12 from the floor and has missed several routine opportunities — “bunnies,” as they’re called — including a few dunk attempts.

Those types of misses (not just by Kugel, but by a few of the Gators) cost them two upset losses at home against Florida Atlantic last week and showed again in the first half for Florida State.

UF shot 51.6 percent in the second half, however, and did a much better job of finishing at the rim.

Especially Fudge, who came in at No. 4 in the Sports Center Top 10.

“Jumping over a guy is always a good idea,” Golden said. “It definitely wasn’t a coach.”





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