(Photo credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports)
Walter Clayton Jr. and the Florida Gators rode a hot-shooting first half to an 89-68 demolition of visiting Florida State on Friday night in Gainesville, Fla.
Clayton scored 12 of his game-high 19 points before the break as the Gators shot 64.3 percent before finishing at 51.7 percent for the game.
In the annual ACC-SEC matchup between the rivals, Florida (3-1) sizzled from the start in an overwhelming first half on both ends of the court, leading by as many as 30 points and holding a 52-22 edge at the break.
The Gators went 18-for-28 shooting, knocking down half of their dozen long-range shots, and limited the Seminoles to 25.8 percent shooting from the floor and outrebounding them 29-9.
In all, Clayton went 8-for-15 overall and 3-for-8 from deep with five assists before fouling out with 1:47 left. Tyrese Samuel had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Riley Kugel added 10 points.
Thomas Haugh grabbed 10 boards as the Gators held a 48-33 rebound margin.
Transfer guard Zyon Pullin, who netted 1,312 points during his four-year career at UC Riverside, made his Florida debut with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes.
A 2023 first-team All-Big West Conference selection, Pullin was suspended for the first three games this season after attending an offseason tournament.
Florida went wire-to-wire and won its third straight game against the Seminoles.
Coming off a program-worst 9-23 record last season, Florida State (2-1) was outmatched from the start.
Cameron Corhen totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds. Jamir Watkins scored 13 points for the Seminoles, who shot 36.4 percent from the floor.
Clayton made 5 of his 9 field goals, including 2 of 5 from 3-point range, as Florida dashed out to a big lead and was up by 30 at halftime.
The Gators saw the Seminoles get the game to within 20 points on four occasions in the second half while the starters were in.
The chippy game became ever testier when De'Ante Green went over Pullin's back under the Seminoles' basket, hooked him and tossed him to the floor with 3:01 remaining.
Green was charged with a flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game.
--Field Level Media