Rebounding from an embarrassing loss at Arkansas on Tuesday, No. 2/2 Florida Gators basketball (19-3, 9-1 SEC) beat down the Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-15, 2-8 SEC) for the second time this season with an 83-58 victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Saturday.
Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario led the way for the Gators with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting (2-of-4 from downtown). Shooting equally as well was junior forward Erik Murphy, who posted 17 points while going 7-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Florida, playing its first game without junior F Will Yeguete (knee), also switched up its starting lineup with freshman G Michael Frazier II taking the place of junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who was benched as a punishment by head coach Billy Donovan.
After starting the game 0-for-5 from downtown, UF quickly got hot from long range and netted four-straight triples. Rosario hit the first trey and Frazier followed by draining three in a row to spot the Gators an early 18-10 lead.
Florida used Frazier’s hot shooting to kick start an 11-0 run and soon followed that up with a 13-2 scoring stretch to double-up Mississippi State 36-18 with 4:27 left in the opening half. UF held on to a 16-point advantage over MSU at the break.
The Gators pulled away at the start of the second half as a 10-0 run extended their lead to 52-26. Florida maintained a comfortable lead from that point forward, and Donovan was able to clear his bench with less than four minutes left in the contest.
Frazier (11 points), junior G/F Casey Prather (12) and senior guard Kenny Boynton (10) joined Rosario and Murphy as five Gators scored in double figures.
Florida shot 52.5 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from downtown while winning the rebounding battle 37-34 and registering 21 assists on 31 made baskets. The Gators also scored 32 points in the paint despite not having a size advantage.
Florida will have little time to rest as Kentucky rolls into Gainesville on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. showdown on ESPN. The Wildcats will be looking to overtake the Gators for first-place in the Southeastern Conference standings.