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Energy bar set in tally, must be higher in Portland * Florida

PORTLAND, Ore. – By the time Alex Fudge As he boarded the team bus for the return trip from Tallahassee to Gainesville Friday night, his cell phone had been blown up with call texts from the likes of Chandler Parsons, Patric Young, Joakim Noah and even Will Wade, his former LSU coach. They all acknowledged the 6-foot-9 forward’s stunning dunk as a sophomore at Florida State.

In case you missed it – hard to imagine given the five rep angles and his place in the SportsCenter Top 10 – Fudge got a pass down the left wing Myreon Jonesimmediately attacked the baseline, worth two short dribbles, then vaulted over (get that) 7-foot-4 center Naheem McLeod and used his right hand to posterize one of the greatest players in all of college basketball.

Disclaimer: Yes, the tweet below was embedded in the UF-FSU game coverage, so forgive the redundancy because it’s worth it.

 

“I had a dunk like this once in high school where I just caught him on the wing and ripped it up. I just threw it over a guy,” Fudge said this week. “However, when I got up this time, I didn’t realize he was 7-4 until I got to the top, so I knew I had to finish it. I said, ‘Okay, then.’ “

The reaction from the UF bank was little more than “Okay.” As the Gators roared, the Seminoles fans mostly groaned and grimaced.

“I was overwhelmed,” Junior Guard Trey Bonham said. “He hasn’t even done anything like that in training. It was crazy.”

Added UF Forward in Year 5 Colin Castleton: “The best dunk I’ve ever seen live.”

The game came near the end of Florida’s furious second-half rally of 17 at the break in a 76-67 win that tied for the second-biggest comeback on the road in program history as well as the Gators’ first win at FSU in 10 years . Overall, the rally gave the team a standard of energy from which to operate as a coach death goldenThe first UF squad of will realize its full potential.

In all honesty, the Gators (3-1) should push that energy bar even higher, and will likely have to do it starting Thursday when they take on Xavier (3-1), a 16-team, basketball, in the opening round of the Phil Knight Nike Legacy Invitational -Bonanza featuring two tournaments of mostly high-profile elites held over Thanksgiving weekend in downtown Portland.

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

Castleton, the 6-11 standout, fueled the comeback by scoring 19 of his game-high 25 second-half points, but it also took big bench contributions from Bonham, Fudge and even 6-11 Jason Jitoboh to fuel the comeback.

The Gators meet Wednesday after their shooting at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Photo by: Maddie Washburn

Bonham replaced Kowacie Reeves early in the second half and finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists while giving point guard Kyle Lofton a second ball handler to play and fold. Bonham also provided plenty of energy on defense and plagued the FSU guards at the forefront of the Seminoles’ offense.

“He just played with great confidence and pace,” Golden said of the move to the Virginia Military Institute. “This was the guy we expected but didn’t have.”

The UF coaches are expecting Bonham-like breakout moments from others like Reeves and freshman combo guard Riley ballneither of whom played against FSU after halftime.

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

Switching was not necessary.

junior guard Trey Bonhamwho had a UF career-high 11 points and seven rebounds at FSU during PK85 practice Wednesday.

Reeves, the 6-6 sophomore, is capable of great achievements, as he demonstrated late last season averaging 16.3 points, 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line in the three postseason Playing UF. So far, he’s averaged 8.5 points and 2.3 rebounds while averaging 40.7 overall and a team-best 47.1 from deep. OK numbers, sure, but what Golden and his staff want from him is consistency at both ends of the floor and a focused mentality for the next game.

The situation with Kugel is different. Arguably the best pure athlete on the team, the 6-5 Kugle is only 2-for-12 off the ground and has missed several routine-at-the-rim opportunities — “bunnies,” as they’re called — including one few dunk attempts.

Those kinds of errors (not just from the ball, but from a handful of Gators) were costly in last week’s two-point loss at home to Florida Atlantic and even resurfaced in the first half at Florida State.

However, UF scored 51.6 percent in the second half and landed much better on the edge.

Especially Fudge, who checked in at #4 sport Center top 10

“Jumping over the guy is always a good strategy,” Golden said. “It certainly wasn’t coaching.”

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