GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Noah Locke scored a career-high 18 points, Deaundrae Ballard added 15 and Florida handled North Florida 98-66 Tuesday night.
Locke, a freshman from Maryland, has worked his way into the starting lineup in place of senior Jalen Hudson and emerged as a reliable scorer for the Gators (4-3).
Ballard, a sophomore from Atlanta, is giving coach Mike White a productive player off the bench. Ballard reached double figures for the third consecutive game. He had a career-high 19 points in Florida’s last game against Stanford.
Locke and Ballard were two of six Florida players with at least 10 points against the overmatched Ospreys (2-5). KeVaughn Allen scored 13, Kevarrius Hayes added 12, Keyontae Johnson chipped in 11 and Keith Stone finished with 10 for the Gators.
Florida shot a season-high 56.5 percent from the field and made 16 of 28 from 3-point range.
The Gators turned a one-point game into a double-digit lead midway through the first half and really got things going with a late run just before the break. Ballard and Johnson hit 3-pointers during the spurt.
Florida led 53-33 at intermission and stretched the lead to 30 with about 10 minutes to play.
White rotated 11 guys, and all of them scored. Freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard was the last to find the basket, ending a scoreless night with a 3-pointer with 4 minutes to play. He also had 11 assists and no turnovers.
Noah Horchler led North Florida with 16 points. Garrett Sams (15), Ivan Gandia-Rosa (13) and J.T. Escobar (11) also reached double figures for the Ospreys.
Florida improved to 8-0 in the series, including wins in each of the last four years.
North Florida: The Ospreys got a taste of what’s to come with a challenging, non-conference schedule that includes trips to Minnesota, No. 15 Florida State and eighth-ranked Auburn in December. Coach Matthew Driscoll hopes it better prepares his guys for Atlantic-Sun Conference play.
Florida: The Gators notched their third win in as many games at home, all against overmatched opponents. Their next one in the O’Connell Center won’t be a pushover since No. 9 Michigan State visits Dec. 8.
North Florida hosts Florida A&M on Thursday, playing at home for the first time in more than two weeks.
Florida plays West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic next Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
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