Toledo's Jonathan Amos starts up court with the ball after a steal from Florida's Erving Walker (11) during the second half of the game in Gainesville. UT lost 80-58.
Phil Sandlin / AP Enlarge
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Dan Werner scored 19 points, Nick Calathes added 16 points and seven assists, and No. 19 Florida opened the season with an 80-58 victory over Toledo on Friday night.
The Gators, trying to rebound from missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade, won their 18th consecutive season opener and improved to 51-6 under coach Billy Donovan in November.
More important, Florida looked much improved on defense. The Gators, who finished 10th in the Southeastern Conference in field-goal defense and ninth in rebounding last season, forced four 10-second violations and held the Rockets to 43.8 percent shooting.
Jonathan Amos led Toledo with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Werner and Calathes led the way for Florida on offense, with some help. Alex Tyus, called on to replace Marreese Speights, had 11 points. Walter Hodge, the team s lone senior, added 10.
Toledo kept it close for most of the first half until Florida began making 3-pointers. The Gators missed their first eight shots from behind the arc, then reeled off four in row to spark a 16-2 run that started with about 3:30 to play and spanned halftime.
Allan Chaney, one of four freshmen making their official debut for the Gators, started the 3-point barrage. Hodge, Calathes, and Werner followed.
The Gators finished 7-of-19 from 3-point range and shot 53 percent from the floor.
They were even better on defense, forcing 25 turnovers and finishing with 12 steals.
Florida was up 56-31 early in the second half and cruised from there, even without two players. Donovan had just nine scholarship players because Adam Allen (knee) and Eloy Vargas (ankle) missed the game with injuries.
The Rockets played most of the game a man down, losing Terrance Tubbs to a shoulder injury early on. Toledo also got in foul trouble early, having seven players pick up two fouls in a first half that ended with 27 fouls called and 36 free throws taken.