The No. 3 Florida Gators (18-2, 7-0 SEC) crawled its way to a victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs (13-7, 3-4 SEC) on Thursday evening, picking up a 62-51 win at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, MS.
Florida won its 12th-straight game and picked up a victory for the 17th time in their last 18 contests. OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Leading by single digits with less than three minutes to play, the Gators boosted their lead to double digits off a three-pointer by sophomore guard Michael Frazier II, his third-straight make from downtown. Frazier missed his first six three-pointers on Thursday but finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from deep.
Prominent player: Florida senior center Patric Young was not the leading scorer but found the bottom of the net when it mattered the most for the Gators, especially at the start of the second half. Young finished with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting with game-highs of eight rebounds and three blocks despite only playing seven first-half minutes.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Significant stretch: Trading leads with its hosts over the first few minutes of the second half, Florida used a 14-2 run that spanned just under six minutes to take a game-high 13-point lead. The Gators never fell behind again, holding on to their advantage all the way through the final buzzer.
First half focus: Trailing through the first 10 minutes, Florida used a 12-2 run to jump ahead by nine points but was unable to sustain the lead. The Gators failed to connect on a field goal (0-for-7) in the final 6:03 of the opening half and got outscored 8-0 by the Bulldogs over the final 3:28. UF took just a one-point lead into the break.
Perfect play: Frustrated with his play and attempting to put back a missed shot early in the second half, Young took a page of out The Incredible Hulk’s book by grabbing his own miss and gathering himself before exploding for a powerful dunk that shook the hoop – and sent his teammates off the bench – in The Hump.
Standout stats: Florida shot poorly from beyond the arc but was even worse at the charity stripe. The Gators finished 6-of-20 from downtown and 8-for-19 from the free throw line with senior forward Casey Prather hitting just 2-of-7 freebies. Prather grabbed seven boards to go along with a team-high 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
What it means: The Gators did not put together their best performance on Thursday but were still the far superior team. Head coach Billy Donovan will likely use the game as motivation to show UF what can happen if it does not come out ready to play.
Next up: Florida must turn around quickly to prepare for its next game, which tips off just 43 hours after Thursday’s contest came to a conclusion. Texas A&M visits Gainesville, FL on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The game will air live on SEC Network affiliates.