Gators, Bulls Notch Impressive Weekend Wins

Ken Cross

January 16, 2024 at 10:48 am.

Covering four games in seven days here in Florida, took me back to when I lived and worked in Charlotte for 22 years. Doing this was my habit back then with college basketball and the NBA. I worked on these through the college game when I relocated to the Tampa Bay Area in 2018.

A friend said that it was awesome to see me getting back to normal after being knocked unconscious and seriously injured in a car accident on Feb. 4, 2022, requiring lengthy recuperation and rehab. I had to make a comeback … much like the South Florida Bulls did on Friday evening.

USF trailed Rice for 35 minutes before 6-11 Kasean Pryor scored 19 points in a row in the latter part of the Second half as he boosted the Bulls over the Owls, 81-73.

Nearly 21 hours later in Gainesville, Florida took a 90-68 decision over struggling Arkansas as the Gators came in at 0-2 in the SEC despite outplaying Kentucky, but losing, 87-85, last Saturday and losing at Ole Miss on Wednesday evening.


Bulls Pass Rice behind Pryor, Knox:  The Owls led South Florida, 62-51, with 11:31 to play, but hadn’t played their best as of then.

Still trailing 66-59 with 7:16 remaining, Pryor went to work scoring those 19 in a row as he made 15-of-16 free throws to push South Florida into a 78-71 lead with 21 seconds remaining.

“First half, I felt like I was letting them down offensively and defensively,” said Pryor. “Coach always says to look down and do a soul check on what we need to do. Second half, I went out there and made some adjustments and brought the energy.”

Pryor can highlight the score sheet in many ways. He added five blocked shots and five steals in sending the Bulls to 9-5, overall, and 2-1 in the AAC.

“Tonight, Kaesen had 29, (Chris) Youngblood had 12 and (Kobe) Knox getting 15; (Selton) Miguel getting 16,” said Bills head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim. “I will take it all night. The great part about our team is the next game, it might be about someone else getting 26.”

Knox was a key contributor as well as he hit a three at the buzzer to end the first half and cut the Rice lead under 10 to 40-31.

“I trust my offense and see open areas on the court,” said Knox. “I trust the ball movement, so guys did a good job of finding me. Especially to have that end-of-the-half shot. JR (Jayden Reid) found me across the court, so I was just trusting that in the first half.”

Abdur-Rahim saw the shot as a key going into the second half.

“It was huge because it gave us momentum coming into the second half,” explained Abdur-Rahim. “It gave us a great teaching point because we were making it a little harder than it should be in the first half, offensively.”


Gators Get First SEC Win as Kugel Paces Five in Double Figures: Florida jumped out to a 27-9 lead on struggling Arkansas and the Gators were never threatened in taking the 90-68 home win over the Razorbacks.

Riley Kugel was back in major form as he finished with 20 points, while scoring nine of 11 in pushing the Gators to a 70-51 lead with 9:48 remaining.

“He, like I told you guys yesterday, we met, made sure we had a good understanding of what the expectations were moving forward,” said Florida head coach Todd Golden. “It was just kind of a re-set, a re-calibration and it was needed.”

Golden also enjoyed seeing Tyreses Samuel and Will Richard return to form. Samuel had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Richard finished with 13 points in nailing three triples.

“Reese is one of our best guys, right? So when he plays like that …,” explained Golden. “And then, Will, I thought Will played well against Kentucky with the exception of shooting, you know, he just didn’t make some shots.”

The Gators shot 49.3 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Razorbacks, 48-31.

“We’ve been a good first-half defensive team,” said Golden. “You know, I thought we would come out and play that way. In the second half, I just thought our communication was much better, and over the course of both halves, I thought our ability to get 50-50 balls was the best today that’s it’s been all year.”

Zyon Pullin had a quality game as well with his 15 points and eight assists from confident and consistent play on the perimeter.

“We needed to come out today and to make a big adjustment on defense,” noted Pullin. “Really just come out with effort, play aggressive and hold each other accountable.”