No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (20-2, 9-0 SEC) fought tooth and nail on Tuesday night, taking down the Missouri Tigers (16-6, 4-5 SEC) with a strong finish on the way to a 68-58 home victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.
UF set a school record by winning its 14th consecutive SEC home game, a streak that dates back to Jan. 9, 2013. The Gators have also started the season 9-0 in league play for just the third time in school history and second time in as many seasons (11-0, 2007).
Florida won its 14th-straight game and picked up a victory for the 19th time in its last 20 contests. The Gators also clinched a 20-win season for the 16th consecutive campaign. OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Florida senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin hit five of six free throws over the final 2:24, ensuring UF maintained most of its double-digit lead down the stretch and effectively clinching the victory. Wilbekin scored a career- and game-high 19 points on the evening, 13 of which came on 16 free throw attempts. He also registered four dimes but did turn it over five times (mostly travels).
Prominent player: Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier II was ice cold in the first half, missing all four of his attempts from beyond the arc. That was not the case in the final 20 minutes when Walker drained 4-of-7 threes to thrust UF into the lead for good. He scored a 14 points adding three boards, two assists, a steal and a block.
Significant stretch: Frazer drained three-straight triples, one in response to a made trey by Mizzou, to spark a 16-3 run that broke a tie and put Florida ahead 59-48 with just over three minutes to play. UF never trailed again.
Freshman focus: Forward Chris Walker entered the game and saw his first action as a collegian with 11:28 left in the first half. He picked up two blocks and a rebound during his short stint on the court, registered two alley-oop dunks in the game (see below) and finished with four points, two boards and two fouls.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Perfect plays: With 2:09 remaining in the first half, the play that Florida fans have been waiting for finally happened. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill took a dribble inside the arc and lofted the ball to Walker, who slammed it home for an alley-oop that blew the roof off the O’Dome. Two minutes later, Hill found Walker for the duo’s second alley-oop. The crowd exploded again but their joy was quickly snuffed out as Jabari Brown drained a buzzer-beating three to give Missouri a 28-25 lead at the break. Hill matched a career-high with six assists, adding three boards and four points (all from the foul line).
Standout stat: The Gators have not shot well from the charity stripe this season, but Florida was able to make up for some of its offensive shortcomings with some clutch makes at the free throw line during the middle portion of the contest. UF finished a respectable 24-of-33 (.727) on freebies, but it just getting to the line that many times that paid dividends for the Gators on Tuesday.
What it means: Tested at home against an offensively-skilled opponent, Florida proved its worth once again. The Gators set a school record with 14-straight home victories against conference opponents and has now won 28-straight games overall in the House of Horrors, also a program record.
Next up: Florida gets to stay at home throughout the week as it prepares to host Alabama in the O’Dome on Saturday at noon. UF beat UA 68-62 on Jan. 23, and head coach Billy Donovan has never lost to former pupil Anthony Grant.