Phenom Hoops tuned in to watch two teams battle it out at the Florida Tip-Off, as East Carolina hit the road to take on the Florida Gators on Thursday night. Two teams with six wins apiece took the floor in hopes of earning a solid victory. Florida came out strong and was able to build a lead behind 20 first-half points from Walter Clayton Jr. His play, along with others, helped Florida secure a 37-30 halftime lead. But the Pirates would continue to fight and eventually cut this game down to a one-possession game late in the second half. Though ECU had a chance, down 67-65, to secure a defensive rebound, it was the Gators’ Tyrese Samuel who got a big offensive board and putback to put it back to a two-possession game, and ultimately help seal the win for Florida.
Final: Florida 70 – East Carolina 65
UF: Walter Clayton Jr. 22pts/ Tyrese Samuel 11pts/ Zyon Pullin 11pts
ECU: Ezra Ausar 14pts/ RJ Felton 14pts/ Brandon Johnson 12pts
Florida was able to secure this win in two categories: fast break points and also on the boards. The Gators outscored the Pirates 20-4 in fast break points, getting out and showing why they are one of the top teams in transition. They also were strong on the boards, holding a 51-32 rebounding edge, which included 21 offensive rebounds.
Walter Clayton (Florida): Clayton scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, really elevating his play and helping his team get out to a strong start. He scored in a variety of ways inside and out, off the bounce as well to lead the way. In the second half, he allowed others to get involved and didn’t force much.
Alex Condon (Florida): I really like what I saw out of the Australian freshman, as the 6’11 big man did a great job in running the court, being active around the paint, getting to the free throw line, strong all over the boards with 12 total, and had one impressive block in the second half. He could be a nice building piece for the future.
RJ Felton and Ezra Ausar (ECU): Two Phenom Hoops Alums led the charge, as both are strong playmakers for the Pirates and are two of the leaders for this team. Felton brings such a physical force to the court in his ability to score and attack, while Ausar continues to flourish in attacking downhill and brings physicality along with fluidity to the floor.
Bobby Pettiford (ECU): Another Phenom Hoops Alum, it was great to see him in action and getting significant minutes, racking up 31 total and finishing with 11 points and 4 assists. Pettiford helped lead the charge for the Pirates, running the show offensively, finding others, and creating tough baskets off the dribble, much like he has always done.