MERCER
FLA

No Text

Locke ties career high with 18, Florida beats Mercer 71-63

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach Mike White admittedly wore his guys out during a 10-day break for final exams.

It nearly cost the Gators against Mercer.

Noah Locke scored 18 points, tying his career high, and Florida staved off a late rally to beat the Bears 71-63 on Tuesday night.

The Gators (6-4) were up 16 points with 5:18 remaining before Mercer (4-7) whittled the lead to five on Jaylen Stowe's 3-pointer in the final minute. The Gators managed to close it out from the free-throw line, thanks to Locke and KeVaughn Allen.

''Really poor finish,'' said White, who blamed ''heavy legs'' for some of his team's late-game struggles. ''We were a step slow to the basketball. Watched the clock the last five minutes, just waiting for it to run out.''

Locke made 6 of 13 shots, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range, and was one of three Gators to reach double figures. Allen added 15 points off the bench, and Andrew Nembhard chipped in 10 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

Locke's 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer put Florida up six. He had two more treys early in the second half that helped give the Gators build a double-digit lead. Isaiah Stokes had consecutive points in the paint, including a nifty hook shot, that made it 52-40. Keith Stone followed a few minutes later with a 3 that pushed it to 13.

''Noah, there had to be three or four bright spots and he was the brightest,'' White said. ''He plays as hard as anybody on our team.''

The Gators seemed to relax with the big lead, and Mercer made it interesting. Ethan Stair's steal and layup cut Florida's lead to 60-54 with 1:22 to play, making every possession huge down the stretch. The Gators did just enough to escape. Allen made all four free throws in the final 30 seconds, and Locke contributed a big rebound and the final point to seal it.

''It was an ugly win,'' said Kevarrius Hayes, who had eight points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for Florida. ''We weren't very sound defensively.''

Ross Cummings led Mercer (4-7) with 18 points on 5-of-19 shooting. Jaylen Stowe added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears, who have lost four in a row and five of six. Marcus Cohen chipped in 10 points.

The Bears outscored Florida 28-22 in the paint, but also got seven shots blocks.

''We've got to find a way to get those layups,'' Bears coach Bob Hoffman said.

It was Florida's third win in four games and a bounce-back effort following a four-point loss at home to then-No. 10 Michigan State.

The Gators have two more games before beginning Southeastern Conference play, but neither is a gimme. They play Florida Gulf Coast, which has made the NCAA Tournament in three of the last six years, and get a rematch against Butler. The Bulldogs beat the Gators in the Battle for Atlantis tournament last month.

''We've got to be better than that to compete with high-level teams that are on our schedule,'' White said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Mercer: Despite losing a fourth straight game, the Bears kept it tight and even led late in the first half. Picked to finish fifth in the Southern Conference, Mercer has shown potential with a four-point loss at North Carolina State and then another close one at Florida.

Florida: Jalen Hudson's curious season continues. The fifth-year senior was back in the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 21, but he missed five of his first six shots - including all three from 3-point range - and was a non-factor down the stretch. After averaging a career-best 15.5 points as a junior, he's getting 5.8 as a senior and appears to lack confidence.

UP NEXT

Mercer returns home to host UNC Wilmington on Friday.

Florida plays Florida Gulf Coast in the Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday in Sunrise.

---

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
E. Stair
A. Nembhard
30.8 Min. Per Game 30.8
7.9 Pts. Per Game 7.9
6.1 Ast. Per Game 6.1
2.8 Reb. Per Game 2.8
50.6 Field Goal % 40.0
37.8 Three Point % 44.4
88.2 Free Throw % 68.4
  Defensive rebound by Noah Locke 4.0
  Ethan Stair missed 3-pt. jump shot 6.0
+ 1 Noah Locke made 2nd of 2 free throws 11.0
+ 1 Noah Locke made 2nd of 2 free throws 11.0
  Noah Locke missed 1st of 2 free throws 11.0
  Personal foul on Djordje Dimitrijevic 11.0
  Defensive rebound by Noah Locke 13.0
  Marcus Cohen missed free throw 13.0
  Personal foul on Andrew Nembhard 13.0
+ 1 KeVaughn Allen made 2nd of 2 free throws 18.0
+ 1 KeVaughn Allen made 1st of 2 free throws 18.0
Team Stats
Points 63 71
Field Goals 23-57 (40.4%) 24-57 (42.1%)
3-Pointers 7-23 (30.4%) 12-33 (36.4%)
Free Throws 10-15 (66.7%) 11-15 (73.3%)
Total Rebounds 34 38
Offensive 8 8
Defensive 22 26
Team 4 4
Assists 8 16
Steals 6 4
Blocks 2 7
Turnovers 12 11
Fouls 18 13
Technicals 0 0
18 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST
18 PTS, 4 REB
12T
away team logo Mercer 4-7 283563
home team logo Florida 6-4 343771
Team Stats
away team logo Mercer 4-7 72.5 PPG 37.7 RPG 12.7 APG
home team logo Florida 6-4 67.8 PPG 36.3 RPG 12.1 APG
Key Players
20
R. Cummings G 17.4 PPG 2.9 RPG 1.9 APG 42.7 FG%
10
N. Locke G 9.4 PPG 2.3 RPG 0.6 APG 37.5 FG%
Top Scorers
R. Cummings G 18 PTS 3 REB 3 AST
N. Locke G 18 PTS 4 REB 0 AST
40.4 FG% 42.1
30.4 3PT FG% 36.4
66.7 FT% 73.3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
R. Cummings 18 3 3 5/19 4/12 4/4 3 38 2 0 2 0 3
J. Stowe 13 11 0 4/8 1/1 4/6 2 35 1 0 2 3 8
M. Cohen 10 1 2 5/7 0/0 0/1 1 34 0 0 3 0 1
E. Stair 8 6 0 3/12 0/4 2/2 2 24 2 0 0 2 4
C. Kilby 4 1 3 2/5 0/2 0/1 3 24 0 0 1 0 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
R. Cummings 18 3 3 5/19 4/12 4/4 3 38 2 0 2 0 3
J. Stowe 13 11 0 4/8 1/1 4/6 2 35 1 0 2 3 8
M. Cohen 10 1 2 5/7 0/0 0/1 1 34 0 0 3 0 1
E. Stair 8 6 0 3/12 0/4 2/2 2 24 2 0 0 2 4
C. Kilby 4 1 3 2/5 0/2 0/1 3 24 0 0 1 0 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
D. Dimitrijevic 6 2 0 2/4 2/4 0/0 2 22 1 0 2 0 2
F. Aimaq 4 6 0 2/2 0/0 0/1 2 16 0 1 2 3 3
V. Bafutto 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0
C. Williamson 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0
D. Peavy 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
D. Love 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
M. Bender - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Prendergast - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Thomas - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Hamilton - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Cuddy - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Urey - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 63 30 8 23/57 7/23 10/15 18 200 6 2 12 8 22
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Locke 18 4 0 6/13 5/11 1/3 1 33 0 0 0 1 3
A. Nembhard 10 4 7 2/7 2/5 4/4 1 35 1 0 4 0 4
K. Stone 9 4 0 3/6 2/4 1/2 4 18 0 2 3 2 2
K. Hayes 8 11 1 4/5 0/0 0/0 4 33 1 5 2 4 7
J. Hudson 2 2 2 1/7 0/4 0/0 0 14 0 0 0 1 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Locke 18 4 0 6/13 5/11 1/3 1 33 0 0 0 1 3
A. Nembhard 10 4 7 2/7 2/5 4/4 1 35 1 0 4 0 4
K. Stone 9 4 0 3/6 2/4 1/2 4 18 0 2 3 2 2
K. Hayes 8 11 1 4/5 0/0 0/0 4 33 1 5 2 4 7
J. Hudson 2 2 2 1/7 0/4 0/0 0 14 0 0 0 1 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
K. Allen 15 3 3 4/9 3/6 4/4 0 31 1 0 2 0 3
K. Johnson 5 5 2 2/6 0/1 1/2 2 21 1 0 0 0 5
I. Stokes 4 1 0 2/3 0/1 0/0 1 7 0 0 0 0 1
M. Okauru 0 0 1 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 8 0 0 0 0 0
D. Bassett - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Gak - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Ballard - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Fava - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Krause - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 71 34 16 24/57 12/33 11/15 13 200 4 7 11 8 26