College Hoops

Energy Bar Set in Tally, Needs to be Higher in Portland

Energy Bar Set in Tally, Needs to be Higher in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — By the time Alex Fudge boarded the team bus Friday night for the trip from Tallahassee back to Gainesville, his cell phone had blown up with shoutout texts from the likes of Chandler Parsons, Patric Young, Joakim Noah and even Will Wade, his former coach at LSU. They were all acknowledging the rangy, 6-foot-9 sophomore forward’s jaw-dropping dunk at Florida State. 

In case you missed it — hard to imagine, given the five replay angles and its place in the SportsCenter Top 10 — Fudge got a pass on the left wing from Myreon Jones, instantly attacked the baseline, two short dribbles worth, then elevated over (get this) 7-foot-4 center Naheem McLeod and used his right hand to posterize one of the tallest players in all of college basketball. 

Disclaimer: Yes, the below tweet was embedded in the UF-FSU game coverage, so forgive the redundancy because it’s worth it.

 

“I had a dunk like that once in high school, where I just caught it on the wing and ripped it. Just threw it over some dude,” Fudge said this week. “This time, though, when I got up, I didn’t realize he was 7-4 until I was at the top, so I knew I had to finish it. I was like, ‘OK then.’ “

The reaction from the UF bench was a little more than “OK then.” While the Gators roared the Seminoles fans mostly groaned and grimaced. 

“I was mind-blown,” junior guard Trey Bonham said. “He hasn’t even done anything like that in practice. That was crazy.”

Added UF fifth-year forward Colin Castleton: “Best dunk I’ve ever seen live.”

The play came toward the end of Florida’s furious second-half rally from 17 down at intermission to a 76-67 victory that equaled the second-largest comeback on the road in program history, as well as the Gators’ first win at FSU in 10 years. In the bigger picture, the rally gave the team an energy standard from which to operate if Coach Todd Golden‘s first UF squad is going to max out its potential. 

Frankly, the Gators (3-1) should set that energy bar even higher, and probably will have to, starting Thursday, when they face Xavier (3-1) in opening-round play of the Phil Knight Nike Legacy Invitational, a 16-team, two-tournament basketball bonanza of mostly high-major elites that will be played out in downtown Portland over Thanksgiving weekend. 

[Read senior writer Chris Harry’s “Pregame Stuff” setup here]

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