Entering this season, one of the biggest concerns for Florida was its interior play after the departure of All-SEC forward Colin Castleton.
Two games into the season, transfers Micah Handlogten (Marshall) and Tyrese Samuel (Seton Hall) have alleviated some of the anxiety.
Tuesday night, when Florida (1-1) hosts Florida A&M (0-2) of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the Gators will look for more promising work from their new pair of big men.
The 7-1 Handlogten is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the 6-10 Samuel has put up 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Handlogten, who was the Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year last season, has been especially efficient, averaging 23.5 minutes and making 77.8 percent of his shots, including both of his 3-point tries.
In a 73-70 loss to Virginia in the Hall of Fame Series on Friday in Charlotte, Handlogten (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Samuel (10 points, 11 rebounds) led Florida to a 47-30 edge on the boards.
But negating the strong work inside was the turnover margin as Florida committed 16 to just six for Virginia.
“Big game-changer. To have 16 turnovers is a big deal for us,” Samuel said. “We have to take care of the ball better.”
Florida A&M is off to a rough start, falling on the road to then-No. 8 Creighton on Tuesday, 105-54, and to Nebraska on Thursday, 81-54.
Opponents have dominated the Rattlers on the boards 108-56, leading to a 47-13 edge in second-chance points. Florida A&M is shooting just 33.1 percent from the floor, including 18.5 percent from beyond the arc.
In his first two college games, K’Jei Parker is averaging a team-leading 12.5 points per game. Keith Lamar is the only other Rattler scoring in double figures, averaging 10.5 points.
Coming off a 7-22 season, Florida A&M’s first four games are at power conference teams, including Oregon next Monday.
“As coaches, we try to put players in positions that are gonna prepare them for similar challenges they’ll have down the road,” coach Robert McCullum said. “Great opportunity and great challenge at the same time.”
-Field Level Media
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