Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida outlasts Missouri 68-58

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.

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12 Responses to “Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida outlasts Missouri 68-58”

  1. obgator says:

    Adam, I appreciate the recap. I think you wrote this one too quickly. I believe Scotty had a career best 19 with those final free throws.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        lol, I couldn’t believe I came on here 2 seconds after game was final and recap was already up! wtg Adam. Mizzou played tremendously well tonight, only played 8 deep and foul trouble and Gators couldn’t really put them away at home. What a great debut by Walker 2 impressive alley oops and 2 great blocks, even if 2nd was put back after block. Really surprised he didn’t play in second half, especially after gators built the lead. I thought up double digits Billy would give him some serious PT, but didn’t.

        I haven’t been this excited about a debut since Brad Beal, and before that Mike Miller. I think Chris Walker still has to catch up on some speed and get better learning the pick and roll, but thought he did very well in his limited time on the court. Great debut, and only more to come!

        • Ken (CA) says:

          And yet another opponent held under 60! Very impressive considering this was one of the best offensive teams they have played this season.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Love grinding out another tough victory. This team has heart, no question about it.

    Still miss a lot of open bigs and easy buckets around the hoop, though. Next game watch how many times Young has his man sealed off, a clear path to the basket, and even calls for the ball, but Hill and Wilbekin just don’t see it or won’t make the pass.

    Get your head up when your dribbling, man. Your bigs are fighting for position. Give’em the ball when they get it.

    • John says:

      I’ll agree with you about Scottie on that, but not Kasey he’s an amazing passer and gets his dudes the basketball.

      • Michael Jones says:

        I agree that Kasey is better at it than Scottie (love Scottie’s heart, passion, and courage. . but struggle with his BB IQ). Kasey is more of a pure 1 to me, and Scottie is more of a 2. Kasey still misses some though. Thinking of 1 play where Kasey was bringing it up the court, and Young had his man sealed off near the free throw line, with no one between him and the basket. Kasey needs to see that and make that pass.

        But, I also think that if not for Kasey, Chris Walker probably would have had no alley oops last night. In all fairness, Kasey is a true freshman, and I’m expecting an explosion between this year and next year when his body fills out and he has a year in our strength and conditioning program. Watch what happens when he drives with that crazy quickness plus strength. . he’ll finish AND 1. I think Kasey is going to be scary good. Love his basketball IQ.

  3. John says:

    By far Kasey Hills best game of the season. I think he’s finally figured it out and he was great for us tonight getting others easy shots, getting to the rim, and playing defense. Also Chris Walker looked very good as well, I’m hoping he starts to get more minutes and you can’t help of thinking what he could do if he stayed another year for us. Him and Kasey next year would be magical.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      not sure why you think this was his best game of the season, yea, he dished a couple more than usual, but he had a turnover, which he almost never does, and did little scoring. had 0 turnovers for several games in a row. his assist to to ratio is great, but he had one tonight, made up for all of Scottie’s bad turnovers but while is improving into a really solid PG, this was hardly his best game

  4. Hank Astengo says:

    Considering the build-up, I think Walker had a good debut. Two baskets on alley-oops…PERFECT! It seems he’s already the most popular player on the team with the students. There are by far more giant Chris Walker heads and Walker signs than any other player & his name is perfect for the Rowdy reptiles. My favorite sign was “Feel the force” with Walker’s head on Luke Skywalker’s body holding a light saber. He’s an INCREDIBLE addition for the stretch run.

    I do have one criticism of Walker though. He needs to go on that show “Bad ink” and have his cheesy looking neck taken care of! Those three giant tattooed hickey’s (SOOOO 7th grade as the kids say) look ridiculous. Those lips look like Mick Jagger on Botox. Otherwise, keep up the good work Sky Walker! We’re glad to have you & your best is still to come!

    • ConnGator says:

      Hang, agree on both parts. My immediate reaction to seeing his neck was “Wow, that is just terrible!”

      Hopefully an offseason project.

  5. Michael Jones says:

    Walker’s look and Walker’s tats are okay with me. What is this? Zoolander? He’s a basketball player, not a runway model. I don’t get how one tat sucks any more or any less than any other tat, anyway. Get off him, man.

    Humble kid. . seems like a great kid. Respectful. Hard worker. Intense. Intelligent. Fits right in with our boys. Hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface with what he can bring to this team. A lot of those runners that Mizzou made last night would have been swatted into the stands if he had been in the game. I trust Billy and I know there’s a method and a strategy for why he does what he does. . but me and my boys were like: “Put him back in the game!!”

    In due time, I’m sure.

    I’m betting that by mid-March he’ll make us all understand why Embiid went to Kansas.

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