JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s basketball team gave up a run in the opening minutes of the game against the No. 15/13 Florida Gators, and it was all the SEC power needed to come away with an 86-60 win on Monday night at a raucous Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Florida came into the night allowing opponents to shoot just over .400 from the field and the rabid Gator defense was at the center of JU’s problems. The Dolphins hit on just 23-of-61 shots on the night, connecting on only a .377 clip.
Florida exploded in the opening minutes of the contest; hitting seven of its first eight shots to take a 16-5 lead just four minutes into the game. Though RJ Slawson gave Jacksonville a 3-2 lead after a minute of action, the Gators came back with a 14-2 run punctuated by back-to-back Michael Frazier 3-pointers leading into the first media timeout.
After Vince Martin ended the Florida run with a wing jumper, Slawson connected a second time from deep to make it 21-10, but the Gators responded again with a 7-0 run to extend to an 18-point lead.
From there on, each time it seemed that Jacksonville might be able to close the gap a little bit on Florida, the Gators found a timely basket to squelch JU’s momentum. Twice in the closing minutes of the first half the Dolphins would put together a good stretch of basketball only to see Florida hit a back-breaking three. Two Jarvis Haywood free throws inside of six minutes made it 36-23, but Dorian Finney-Smith answered with a trey to stretch the lead back to 16. Minutes later, Slawson cut the Florida edge to 12, 39-27, until the Gators broke the Jacksonville press and got a clean look for Michael Frazier, who buried one of his five 3-pointers on the night to make it 42-27.
Florida put the last four points of the first half on the board and led 48-29 at the break.
Jacksonville came out and hit a pair of foul shots to begin the second half to trim the lead to 17, but a 12-2 run grew the lead to 60-33, and soon the Gators had their largest lead of the night, 69-37. Maintaining their focus, the Dolphins answered with a 6-0 run, then continued to cut into the Florida lead for the next few minutes. A jumper from Javon Dawson got JU back within 20, 78-58, but only four minutes remained in the contest.
As was their M.O. throughout the game, the Gators pushed right back with a 3-pointer from Scottie Wilbekin and cruised to the finish, holding Jacksonville to just one field goal the rest of the way.
"We played with some energy and effort," said Head Coach Cliff Warren. "Unfortunately at the beginning of the game we didn't pay attention to detail defensively. I thought Florida jumped out on us by making some high-percentage shots. We played with a little more pride in the second half."
Haywood led the Dolphins with 16 points on the night, while Martin supplied the Dolphins with a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards. Both Dawson and Slawson ended with eight points on the evening, and Kordario Fleming came off the bench to score five points and grab six rebounds.
Casey Prather had a game-high 27 for Florida, who had five players in double-figures.
Jacksonville wraps up a three-game home stand next Tuesday, taking on Trinity Baptist at Swisher Gym at 7 p.m.
The leaders in offensive rebounding in the Atlantic Sun entering the night, Jacksonville nabbed 16 more on Monday, led by four from Vince Martin.
As the numbers indicated coming into the night, Florida handled Jacksonville’s pressure well and only turned the ball over nine times in the game. However, JU did well against a tough Florida team as well. The Dolphins matched their season-low for turnovers with 12, which earlier in the season they had set in their 101-72 win over Florida College.
Jarvis Haywood has appeared in five games this season and reached double-figures in all of them. Going back to last season, he has scored in double-digits in 14 of the last 15 contests he’s appeared in. The sophomore has led the Dolphins in scoring in three of the first six games this season.
Tyler Alderman had a career-high three assists on the night.
Javon Dawson set a career high with 31 minutes played and set a season high of eight points.