SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Jalen Hudson’s faith in his shot was finally rewarded, and his regained touch paid off Saturday for the Florida Gators.
The senior guard snapped a season-long slump by sinking three consecutive 3-pointers during a 2½-minute span midway through the first half, and the Gators went on to beat Florida Gulf Coast 77-56 Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic.
Hudson, the Gators’ leading scorer last season, came into the game shooting 29 percent, including 6 for 34 from 3-point range.
He finished 4 for 9 beyond the arc and scored 14 points.
“I tried to shoot it with confidence,” Hudson said. “If I was shooting it without confidence, I knew it wasn’t going to go in.”
Noah Locke had 15 points in 21 minutes for the Gators (7-4), who won for the fourth time in their past five games. Kevarrius Hayes had 12 points without a miss, blocked three shots and had a team-high seven rebounds.
No. 11 Florida State beat Saint Louis 81-59 in the first game of the one-day event.
Hudson’s shooting spurt gave Florida a 23-8 lead midway through the first half.
“I’m happy for the team, but I’m very happy for him,” coach Mike White said. “It has been a little difficult for him. He’s a really talented offensive player. We knew at some point he was going to break out.”
The Gators forced 22 turnovers and held Florida Gulf Coast to 39 percent shooting, including 2 for 14 from 3-point range. But Hudson said the Gators are capable of more defensively.