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No. 12 Florida Gators basketball (24-6, 14-3 SEC) dispatched of the Arkansas Razorbacks (22-8, 11-6 SEC) with relative ease on Wednesday night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. It was a nice bounce back game for the Gators, which celebrated Senior Night with some solid performances by the oldest players on their roster.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the latest win below.
It was over when … Florida watched its lead get cut in half as it started the second half slow. With the Gators suddenly leading by just six, the hosts took off on an 8-0 run to go up 59-45 on the Razorbacks. A three from senior point guard Kasey Hill with 3:12 remaining pushed that advantage to 11, and UF eventually went up 13 down the stretch, holding off a hard-fought comeback attempt by Arkansas.
First half focus: UF opened up strong, starting 12-of-16 from the field with seniors scoring 11 of its first 14 points. An extended 13-3 run put the Gators up 16 on the Hogs, a lead the hosts maintained to double up the visitors 32-16 during the half. Florida did not finish as well as it began, though, making just 5-of-14 shots down the stretch as its lead was cut to 13 at the break.
Exceptional efforts: After a couple rough games, graduate transfer gaurd Canyon Barry regained his swagger on Wednesday, draining 3-of-8 attempts from downtown to post a team-high 14 points. Sophomore G KeVaughn Allen was incredibly efficient but did not shoot it enough on the evening, hitting 5-of-6 shots and 2-of-3 triples for 12 points.
Significant stats: Florida did a poor job shooting coming out of the break, but the Gators made the shots that mattered, hitting 43.5 percent of their threes in the game and going 8-for-9 from the charity stripe in the second half. UF returned to its typical ways of getting a bunch of scoring off the bench with 36 of the team’s 78 points coming from the pine. And that’s with Barry, who usually comes off the bench, starting the contest.
Odds and ends: Head coach Mike White let Florida’s four seniors start the game … those seniors scored 11 of the Gators’ first 14 points … Hill was rough for the first 30 minutes of the game but finished with 12 points by hitting 5-of-6 free throws .. junior PG Chris Chiozza was clutch late with 12 points, most of them in the second half … freshman center Gorjok Gak played for the first time in the month and saw eight minutes of action … redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone scored eight straight points and may have broken out of his funk … Florida won the rebounding battle 40-33 and dominated paint scoring 38-26 … the Gators led for 38:14 and only trailed for 32 seconds … Allen is now 4-0 against his home state team, and Florida is 12-2 against Arkansas in the O’Dome with 12 straight victories
What it means: Well, the win was better than a loss. Ultimately this victory does not help the Gators that much, but they did avoid losing consecutive games and perhaps giving themselves a black eye for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. The Razorbacks were tied for third in the SEC entering the contest, but Florida is on another level talent and coaching wise and was expected to easily win this game. The victory also keeps a share of the SEC title alive for UF as Kentucky still has one game to play.
Up next: Florida will conclude the regular season on Saturday when it travels to Vanderbilt, one of only three SEC teams to hand it a loss this season. The game will air live nationally at 2 p.m. on ESPN.