GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For as much as the numbers and percentages will continue to be scrutinized for this Florida basketball team, after the Gators struggled so poorly in the shooting categories last season, there is one stat line that won’t ever concern coach Mike White.
Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen has embarked on an icy start while shooting just 25 percent from the field (5 of 20) and 18.2 percent from 3-point range (2 of 11) through two games.
But looking back on those first two contests, a pair of lopsided wins over Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer, White actually wished Allen had launched more shots.
“I thought there was a couple times he came off screens the other day and he had a pretty good look,” White said Tuesday. “He’s so unselfish that when he’s not in a great offensive rhythm, he’s liable to pass shots up. He’s the one guy on the team that I’d (prefer) he’d never pass a shot up. I always think when he’s shooting it, the next one’s going in, whether he’s missed his last one or his last four or five. We all know how electric he can be when he gets himself going.”
Allen is Florida’s top returning scorer after averaging 11.6 points per game as a freshman.
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Little Rock, Ark., scored 6 points (on 2-of-8 shooting) in the Gators’ 80-59 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Friday and 13 points (on 3-of-12 shooting) in a 76-54 victory over Mercer on Sunday. Both games were played on unfamiliar rims at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
After that second game, White said much of the same about Allen.
“Every time KeVaughn shoots it, I think it’s going in. That may be a fault of mine, but I want him to be really aggressive,” White said Sunday. “I’ve seen him, even though he’s just starting his sophomore year, I’ve seen him in practices and games score a lot of points. He can heat up in a hurry. … Law of averages will kick in. He’s a really good shooter. And he’s shooting it better this year than he did a year ago. If he goes 2 of 8 from 3 tonight, one of these nights soon I think we’ll see a 5 of 8 and things will even out.”
At one point early in the first half Sunday, junior forward Devin Robinson signaled to Allen from the bench to keep shooting even after Allen had already missed a pair of 3s and his first four shots overall.
Allen was just a 31.5-percent 3-point shooter (51 of 162) last season but had some really impressive moments in a breakout freshman season.
There was a three-game stretch where he scored 32 points against Florida State and 18 each against Georgia and at Tennessee. He scored 27 at Ole Miss, including going 6 of 7 from 3-point range, and had eight games in all in which he scored 18 or more points.
He’ll look to get on track as Florida travels to Lakeland, Fla., on Thursday to take on St. Bonaventure.
“To be honest with you, (it’s) not his stroke. It looks beautiful to me. But I’m not sure he’s been as aggressive as we want him to be,” White said. “So, I’d be lying if I told you he was just as confident as he was three weeks ago, so we’re going to continue to urge him to be aggressive. …
“With really good shooters, really good players, you know how it is, he’s liable to go on a big streak, to have a big game. Hopefully, it’s Thursday night.”