College Sports

Florida overwhelms ‘undermanned’ Charlotte 49ers, but ...

Florida forward Devin Robinson (1) drives past Charlotte guard Austin Ajukwa (5) in the second half of Saturday’s Orange Bowl Classic tournament game. Florida won the game 87-46. At right is Charlotte guard Braxton Ogbueze.
Florida forward Devin Robinson (1) drives past Charlotte guard Austin Ajukwa (5) in the second half of Saturday’s Orange Bowl Classic tournament game. Florida won the game 87-46. At right is Charlotte guard Braxton Ogbueze. AP

For those looking for silver linings to Charlotte’s 87-46 loss against the Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon at the BB&T Center, there probably weren’t any.

But perhaps there was a bronze lining – Austin Ajukwa, the Clemson transfer who played his first game for the 49ers and scored a team-high 12 points.

“I liked what Austin did,” 49ers coach Mark Price said of 6-foot-7 Ajukwa, who also had a team-high four steals and shot 3-of-8 from the floor, 1-of-5 on 3-pointers and 5-of-7 on free throws.

“He got to play a lot of minutes tonight (29). That was good for him after having to sit out for so long. I think he’s a player who is going to help us as we move forward into conference play. He’s versatile. He does give us more length on the perimeter. I’m excited about Austin and having him play for us.”

As for the 41-point loss, Price was somber in his demeanor.

“That was a really bad loss to a really good team,” Price said. “I was disappointed we didn’t play better.

“You have to play your best game to have a shot against a team like that. They punched us in the mouth early. We never responded, and that’s on me as a coach to have our guys prepared.”

Three who mattered

Canyon Barry: Son of Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry came off the bench and had a game-high 16 points for Florida. He made 9-of-10 free throws and 3-of-6 from the floor, including a 3-pointer.

Devin Robinson: Had 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds for Florida.

Chris Chiozza: Florida’s backup point guard, had nine points, a game-high five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

Observations

▪ Florida crushed Charlotte on the boards. The final tally was 44-23. Price said the undersized 49ers usually get outrebounded “by seven or eight,” but this was at another level.

▪ This was the second of three straight games away from home that feature Wake Forest (a 91-74 loss), Florida and Maryland on Tuesday. After that, the 49ers open their Conference USA schedule against North Texas on Dec. 31 at noon.

“We know we will be undermanned every night,” Price said, “but probably not as bad in our conference as with some of these teams.”

▪ It wasn’t just Florida’s starters being better than those of Charlotte. It was also the Gators’ superior bench that ran up the score. Florida had a 45-23 edge in bench scoring.

Worth mentioning

▪ Florida outscored Charlotte 38-14 in the paint and also had a 14-2 edge on second-chance points.

They said it

“We’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were last year.” - Price

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