Preview: Florida hosts winless North Florida in second game of home stand

TV: SEC Network

TIME: 7 p.m.

Eighth-ranked Florida plays its second game of the season Thursday night, eager to see more of Egor Koulechov.

The graduate transfer guard from Rice scored 34 points in the Gators' season-opener Monday night in a 116-74 victory over Gardner-Webb.

Florida, in the midst of a three-game season-opening stretch at home, hosts North Florida on Thursday night.

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Koulechov's performance Monday did not shock Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza.

"No, 'cause I see him do it every day," he said, via the school's official website. "Some guys can do it in practice and can't do it when they get in front of people, but he's played a lot of college basketball. And, honestly, I was really more surprised at how many shots he missed."

Koulechov made 11 of 17 shots from the field, including 6 of 9 3-pointers. He finished with five assists and five rebounds in 26 minutes.

The Russian-born player was a prolific scorer with the Owls, averaging 18.2 points last season. His 34 points Monday tied a 55-year-old record for most in a debut at Florida.

North Florida (0-3) already has played a challenging schedule, losing at Michigan State and Michigan on back-to-back nights to open the season and then losing 95-85 at VCU on Monday night.

The Ospreys drained 17 of 40 3-point attempts in the loss at VCU but hurt themselves with 16 turnovers.

"We were very resilient and we never broke," North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said after the game. "We continued to do what we did."

North Florida shoots better from 3-point range (44 percent, 37 of 84) than overall (39.9 percent, 77 of 193). The Ospreys, of the Atlantic Sun Conference, are led by swingman Garrett Sams (16.0 ppg).

The Gators and Ospreys are facing each other for the third consecutive season.

Florida won 91-60 last season as Chiozza led the way with 16 points and nine assists. The Gators shot 58.7 percent from the field and made 9 of 19 shots from the 3-point line in that game.

Florida coach Mike White will have to prepare his team for North Florida's 3-point onslaught, and he certainly has been preaching rebounding this week after he found that area lacking against Gardner-Webb.

"I don't know yet how deep we are defensively," White said. "I don't know how many consistent, accountable guys we have on the glass. That's the charge to our team right now, and it's been communicated to them a bunch."

The Florida offense had few issues in the opener, finishing with 26 assists -- the most by the Gators in five years. Chiozza shook off a preseason shoulder injury to put up five points, six rebounds and six assists.

Florida plays New Hampshire on Sunday to wrap up its three-game homestand.

For the Ospreys, Thursday's game is the conclusion of a four-game blitz to start the season.

"So, we make a lot of money," Driscoll said. "That's why our schedule is the way it is. We raise a lot of money. But we don't come here to get a steak and a check. We come here to get a win."