'3Gor' wows opening-night crowd for Florida Gators – Florida Times-Union
GAINESVILLE | It was only one game, against an over-matched opponent and Thanksgiving is still more than two weeks away.
But there was no curbing the enthusiasm on Monday as the University of Florida unveiled its 2018-18 basketball team with a few veterans, more than a few new faces and perhaps the next crowd favorite of the Rowdy Reptiles.
Graduate transfer Egor Koulechov, a native of Volgograd, Russia, with a stop at Rice along the way, made 6 of 9 3-point attempts and scored 34 points to lead the Gators to a 116-74 victory over Gardner-Webb in front of 8,604 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center — the most points the Gators have ever scored to lift off a season.
The previous high was 112 against Montana State in 2002. The Gators have won 27 opening games in a row and haven’t lost a home opener since 1983.
Koulechov, a 6-foot-5 guard, matched the most points scored by a first-year Florida player on opening night and had the second-most points to open a season in school history. Tom Baxley had 34 points against Miami on Dec. 1, 1962 in his first game in a UF uniform. The school record is 37 by Neal Walk on Dec. 1, 1967 against Jacksonville, when he was a senior.
Koulechov also broke the UF opening-night record for the most 3-point shots. Greg Stolt made four on Nov. 24, 1995 against Charleson Southern.
Florida, which lost four starters from last year’s NCAA Elite Eight team, trailed twice early in the first half, then rode the hot hand of Koulechov on a 30-7 run that turned a 12-10 deficit into a 40-19 lead with 5:49 left in the half.
Koulechov missed four of his first five shots, but then made seven of his next eight attempts,