Florida Gulf Coast’s Cinderella story captivated the nation in 2013 when the Eagles and Dunk City met the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16, and the clock struck midnight when UF knocked FGCU out of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Saturday, Florida and Florida Gulf Coast met for a fifth time in the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise. Coming in, the Gators had won the four matchups before, and FGCU Coach Michael Fly expected the game to be a tough test for his team, even as they entered on a 3-game win streak.
“They play every possession as hard as they can go, like it’s their last possession,” Fly said of Florida Men’s Basketball. “When you prepare for a coach white team, you’ve got to match their intensity and competitiveness on every possession.”
The Eagles were also without starting guard and top scorer Haanif Cheatum Saturday, because Cheatum was ruled out for the season earlier this week due to a shoulder injury. That meant FGCU needed fresher faces to step up on the court.
On Saturday it would be sophomore Troy Baxter Jr., a UNLV transfer, leading FGCU in scoring with 13 points, but not enough to keep up with Florida, a team that went 11-for-30 from behind the arc compared to FGCU’s just 2-for-14 from three-point land.
The Gators were also led by younger players, with freshman guard Noah Locke pacing Florida with 15 points as UF snapped FGCU’s 3-game win streak with a 77-56 win in the Orange Bowl Classic.
The Eagles will travel to Ole Miss after the holidays. Stay with WINK Sports for your latest news from Dunk City.