Seven things to know: Allen helps Florida get sweet revenge on South Carolina

By Adam Silverstein
February 21, 2017
Seven things to know: Allen helps Florida get sweet revenge on South Carolina
Basketball

Image Credit: ESPN Images

The definition of a second-half team, No. 13 Florida Gators basketball (23-5, 13-2 SEC) pulled away late once again, getting sweet revenge on the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks (20-8, 10-5 SEC), one of two SEC teams to beat the hosts this season. Florida took it to South Carolina 81-66 on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, winning their ninth straight game as they head into a tough rivalry contest over this weekend.

OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest win below.


It was over when … Rebounding from a rough finish to the opening half (see below), Florida went on an early 9-0 run aided by back-to-back threes to retake a six-point lead on South Carolina with 11:41 remaining. But it was the Gators’ ability to hang onto the ball (only four second-half turnovers) that ensured their victory as the Gamecocks were provided with fewer opportunities to get back in the game. As such, Florida’s 10-3 scoring stretch late in the contest — which included three of the six-straight field goals the team made — pushed the hosts up a game-high 18 points with 3:28 to play and clinched a decisive victory over the third-best team in the SEC.

First half focus: It was an up-and-down opening 20 minutes for the Gators, which used a 9-0 run to go up 12 midway through the half but saw that double-digit lead completely evaporate. The Gamecocks responded immediately with a 17-2 run to jump ahead for the first time all game with a minute until the break as UF went absolutely cold from the field and failed to make a basket for more than four minutes. Florida did score the last five points of the half, however, including a tremendous steal, give-and-go and dunk that put the hosts up two. UF committed 12 turnovers and 11 fouls in the half, while it had one assist until the final minute, finishing with three.

Exceptional effort: Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen did everything for the Gators on Tuesday, registering team-highs in points (26) and rebounds (seven) while going 5-for-7 from the field, 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and 13-for-14 from the charity stripe. He also had three assists, two steals and a block in 36 minutes.

Significant stats: Florida’s 12 first-half turnovers were atrocious and a major reason South Carolina was even in the game. The Gators were much more careful with the ball in the second half, coughing it up just four times. In doing so, they were not as rushed to gain extra possessions and drained 7-of-15 twos along with 6-of-9 threes in the latter period. This was also a rare contest in which UF did not get many points off the bench as they posted just 16 compared to 65 from the starters.

Odds and ends: Florida hit a three-pointer just 32 seconds into the game after not making one for 40 minutes in these teams’ first meeting a month ago … redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone scored his first points since Jan. 18 and made his first field goal since Jan. 14 … junior F Devin Robinson was quiet in the first half but dynamic in the second, draining 3-of-6 triples for 14 points with six boards … sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza once again took over ball-handling duties and posted 12 points along with four dimes to a pair of turnovers … senior PG Kasey Hill struggled with four turnovers and four fouls … sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes was efficient with seven points and six rebounds … listed as a game-time decision, graduate transfer G Canyon Barry played just nine minutes and went 0-for-3 from the field … the Gators only trailed for 15 seconds on the evening

What it means: UF proved it can beat a quality opponent despite redshirt junior C John Egbunu being sidelined for the season with a torn ACL. Head coach Mike White also made his case to win SEC Coach of the Year honors, defeating the only other legitimate candidate for the award by 15 points despite being down two players. Finally, Florida locked up a double bye in the 2017 SEC Tournament by guaranteeing itself a top two seed; the Gators can lock up No. 1 overall with a win on Saturday.

Up next: Roles will reverse on Saturday as Florida travels to Kentucky with the Wildcats looking for some revenge after being handed a 22-point defeat at the hands of the Gators already this season. Florida-Kentucky will tip at 2 p.m. ET and air live nationally on CBS.

3 Comments

  1. Lee Wedekind says:

    Sloppy first half, dynamic second half. so what’s new? This team has more natural ability than I think the players believe. Except for Rimmer, bless his heart. He plays as well as he can. Maybe he can be an unlikely hero down the road. That would be nice.

  2. .?? says:

    Can we really lock up the #1 spot with a win? What if we lose the final two games?

  3. Michael Jones says:

    Can’t tell you how much I love watching this team play. They play offense with a purpose, picking away from the ball, attacking the hoop, and moving the ball around crisply, sometimes without dribbling (unheard of for today’s young player so in love with dribbling between their legs) . . . as opposed to 4 guys standing around the 3 point line dribbling meaninglessly and staring meaninglessly into oblivion while the defense rests. Also love the scrappy help-defense and the tenacity of contesting every pass, going after every rebound, every loose ball. That’s the way basketball is supposed to be played.

    This Gator basketball team is tough, smart and passionate. I don’t know how far we’ll go in the tourney and really don’t care because (1) I am not of the belief that only the national champion had a good year, (2) this coach needs and deserves more time and (3) when we lose, if we lose, I have no doubt this team will go down fighting.

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