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Three Things to Know: Florida routs Providence; Creighton’s new piece does well in debut

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 17 Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame - Providence vs Florida

BROOKLYN, NY - DECEMBER 17: Florida Gators guard Tre Mann (1) during the second half of the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame college basketball game between the Providence Friars and the Florida Gators on December 17, 2019 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tuesday night didn’t have a lot of big matchups in college basketball. Only four top-25 teams even played. There were minimal matchups between power-conference teams.

But there were still some results to monitor for the future, including an SEC team earning a blowout win, the debut of a potential key rotation piece for a Big East team and

1. Florida routs Providence at Hall of Fame Invitational

On a slow Tuesday night, Florida ran past Providence for an 83-51 win at the Hall of Fame Invitational in Brooklyn. The Gators used four double-figure scorers to gain an early big advantage as they coasted from there. Keyontae Johnson paced Florida with 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Gators shot 44 percent (8-for-18) from three and got scoring from multiple sources.

Perhaps most importantly, Florida avoided a landmine. Providence isn’t very good this season as they fall to .500. For a team with a lot of talent on paper, the Friars aren’t gelling together. So for the Gators to go into a neutral site and get a win on a slow December night is important for a team that already has three losses in non-conference play.

Florida’s fates weren’t swayed by a win over a floundering Providence team. But they gained some confidence by pounding a Big East opponent before a more important game against Utah State this weekend.

2. Creighton holds off Oklahoma in second half

In another matchup of power conference teams Creighton held off a second-half charge from Oklahoma for the 83-73 home win.

The trio of Marcus Zagorowski (20 points), Mitch Ballock (17 points) and Ty-Shon Alexander (19 points, 11 rebounds) led the way for the Bluejays as they combined for 56 points.

But most notably for Creighton in the win was the season debut of Denzel Mahoney. The Southeast Missouri State transfer hasn’t played since the 2017-18 season when he averaged 19.3 points per game. The 6-foot-5 Mahoney made his presence immediately felt in the Creighton lineup with 14 points in 29 minutes on Tuesday night.

Creighton already has the No. 15 offense in the country with a trio of talented players combining to put up 48 points per game. And now they’re adding a double-figure scorer who came off of a year and a half absence and scored double-figures on a Big 12 team? The Bluejays are an interesting wild card team in the Big East with their ability to put up points.

The matchup this weekend featuring Creighton traveling to Arizona State just got a lot more intriguing.

3. Miami wins back-and-forth game over Temple

In the second game of the Hall of Fame Invitational, Miami won a back-and-forth game over Temple with a 78-77 thriller.

Point guard Chris Lykes made two free throws after getting fouled with four seconds left to give the Hurricanes the win. Only 30 seconds before, the Owls had buried a three-pointer to take the lead as De’Vondre Perry looked like a potential hero.

But Miami pulled out the win making for a significantly more exciting outcome in Brooklyn than the opening contest. The Hurricanes still don’t have any sort of tournament-worthy profile. They still don’t look like an easy out after a recent road win at Illinois and this close win on Tuesday.