Florida Gators basketball (7-3) avoided a three-game losing streak with a thin 72-70 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-4) on Saturday evening in the 2015 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
Having previously lost to the three best teams it faced this season, Florida earned an important win over an Oklahoma State team that, while it may not be to the level of UF’s previous opponents, is still a Power Five conference squad. The Gators showed improvement offensively and are now 15-2 all-time in the OBBC with six-straight victories.
OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s win with nine quick-hitters:
It was over when: Despite leading by 10 with less than seven minutes to play (see below), Florida allowed Oklahoma State to jump right back in the contest as the Cowboys began hacking Gators redshirt sophomore center John Egbunu, who went 1-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and finished 2-of-9 from the line for the game. A late OSU trey cut UF’s lead to two with a couple seconds left before an inbounds ended the game.
Significant stretch: The contest went back-and-forth throughout with eight lead changes and eight ties, but Florida earned its largest advantage after a 13-2 run that included six-straight points by sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza – a three-pointer and old school three-point play off consecutive steals – and four in a row by Egbunu off back-to-back dunks. The Gators led by 10 with 6:37 to play and never fell behind again. Egbunu finished with 10 points, three boards and four fouls, giving him nine fouls in his last two games.
First half focus: Florida was once again miserable at the free throw line, hitting just 4-of-10 attempts, but the Gators did gain 20 points from their bench in the opening 20 minutes and led by a single point at the break.
Slow and steady: Sophomore forward Devin Robinson may not be lighting up the scoreboard, but he has steadily improved throughout the young season and taken a major step forward from his rookie campaign. Robinson has cut down his turnovers, committing just one on Saturday, while becoming a much more efficient shooter (4-of-6 from the field, 2-of-3 from three) on the way to becoming a player that the Gators can seemingly count on. He finished with 13-points and six boards on the evening.
Young guns: Chiozza got the start but actually got outplayed junior PG Kasey Hill by a minute; that’s because while Chiozza is more dynamic and seemingly a better long-term player for Florida, Hill has stepped up his game defensively and did a great job sharing the ball. Together, they combined for 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting (Chiozza was just 2-for-7 from downtown) and one turnover compared to eight assists (all Hill). Also stepping up in the backcourt was freshman guard Kevaughn Allen, who continued to come on with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Everything else: Francis-Ramirez continued to struggle, going 0-for-3 from the field; he is now 0-for-10 over his last two games and shooting .192 on the season, .148 from beyond the arc … redshirt senior F Dorian Finney-Smith had team-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds … redshirt senior F Alex Murphy played his first game all season, scoring four points on 2-of-4 shooting … Murphy made his 2015-16 debut in the same neutral site he made his 2014-15 (and overall Florida) debut … the Gators made three more field goals than the Cowboys but got outshot .400-.308 from three and .727-.462 from the stripe … Florida also lost the rebounding battle 42-37 … UF’s bench outscored OSU’s 32-19
Up next: Florida turns around quickly, hosting Jacksonville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Gainesville. The Gators will then have a week off before ending their extended nonconference slate against rival Florida State one week from that date.