Mens Basketball: Florida 116, Gardner-Webb 74 - D1SportsNet

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Mens basketball

Florida 116, Gardner-Webb 74

Egor Koulechov scored 23 of his game-high 34 points in the first half as No. 8 Florida opened its season with a 116-74 victory over Gardner-Webb on Monday night in Gainesville, Fla.

Koulechov made 6 of 9 3-pointers and eight baskets overall in that first half, which saw the Gators jump out to a 55-32 lead at the break. That earned a standing ovation from the home crowd.

The graduate transfer, who finished with six 3-pointers, transferred from Rice, where he averaged 18.2 points last season. Florida is hoping the Russian-born guard will give it more offensive punch, and he did Monday.

Koulechov made 11 of 17 shots from the field and finished with five assists and five rebounds in just 26 minutes.

Junior guard Jalen Hudson also helped the Gators on offense with 16 points. Freshman guard Deaundrae Ballard added 14.

Overall, 11 Florida players scored.

The Gators added 61 points in the second half making 21 of 29 shots.

Sophomore forward D.J. Laster led Gardner-Webb (0-2) with 19 points.

The Runnin' Bulldogs had three players in double figures as freshman guard Jaheam Cornwall added 18 and junior guard David Efianayi scored 13.

The two teams stayed close early before Florida scored 11 consecutive points, with help from three 3-pointers, including one from Koulechov. That gave the Gators a 24-13 lead, and Florida then pulled away.

NOTES: Florida senior G Chris Chiozza sprained his shoulder on Nov. 2 but was able to play, even though there had been some question about his availability. He finished with five points plus six rebounds and six assists. ... The Gators set a record for points scored on opening night. ... Gardner-Webb played its first two games of this season in Florida, falling to Miami (77-45) on Friday. ... This was the first time the Runnin' Bulldogs have played the Gators.