Florida Gators 76, Mercer Bears 54 – FOXSports.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s biggest weakness last season looks like it could be a strength now.
Playing in Jacksonville for the second time in three days, Florida (2-0) celebrated another lopsided victory. Leon, Allen and the Gators’ improved free-throw shooting had a lot to do with the latest one.
Leon was 6-of-10 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and had five rebounds. Allen was 3-of-12 shooting and made all five of his free throws. He added five assists, three boards, two blocks and two steals.
Maybe the biggest positive for Florida was its free-throw shooting. The Gators, who ranked 323rd (out of 346 teams) in the NCAA from the stripe last season, hit 20 of 26 in the season opener and then 24 of 30 against Mercer.
“Hopefully a season-long trend,” Florida coach Mike White said. “We’d take that in a heartbeat. It feels good to see that thing go in. … I know it’s got to feel good for our guys, especially the guys that have struggled in the past and are seeing the rewards of their labor.”
Ria’n Holland led the Bears (1-1) with 21 points. Jordan Strawberry, the son of former Major Leaguer Darryl Strawberry, finished with four points.
Mercer trimmed a 24-point deficit to 49-34 midway through the second half, but Florida answered with a 15-5 spurt that pushed the lead to 25. The Gators coasted from there, offsetting 36 percent shooting with 20 offensive rebounds and 22 points off 17 turnovers.
“You can tell they still have another place they can go,” Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said. “They definitely haven’t arrived yet. … I think that team’s going to be really special,