Fastbreak: Florida Gators run through Ole Miss 80-71 in Mike White’s homecoming

By Adam Silverstein
January 17, 2016

The two-faced Florida Gators basketball team was at it again Saturday, shooting the lights out on the road in Oxford, Mississippi, on the way to a wire-to-wire 80-71 win over the Ole Miss Rebels.

Florida (11-6, 3-2 SEC) opened up in control of the game and never lost its advantage, even as shots stopped falling and Ole Miss (12-5, 2-3 SEC) fought back in the second half. As such, new UF head coach Mike White was able to talk down his alma mater in what was a unique homecoming game. breaks down Saturday’s win with seven quick-hitters:

It was over when: The Gators answered a 9-0 Rebels run that cut UF’s advantage from 20 points down to 11 with 7:34 remaining by scoring five straight points including a perfectly timed three by freshman guard KeVaugn Allen. The trey ended a 6:13 stretch Florida had to endure without a field goal and allowed the teams to trade baskets and free throws over the duration of the contest.

Bouncing back at the line: Just one game after falling to 339th out of 346 teams nationally in free throw shooting, Florida went 21-for-31 from the charity stripe. Though still not a great percentage, six of the seven players that shot free throws actually finished 21-of-27 (.808), while redshirt sophomore center John Egbunu went 0-for-5.

New blood gets it done: Allen’s big three late in the game was just one of his tremendous plays on Saturday. He finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting, going 6-of-7 from beyond the arc and 3-of-4 from the line. It was the second time this season that Allen has gone bonkers in a game as he posted a career-high 32 points against Florida State on Dec. 29, 2015, but this time he did it in an extremely efficient manner and added a career-high six rebounds to boot.

Coming through again: Redshirt senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith had another strong outing, showing up with a double-double in his second straight game and third in his last four. Finney-Smith posted 17 points, going 9-for-11 from the line, and 10 boards with four assists on the evening. Uneven much of the season, he is shooting 64.3 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from beyond the arc over his last two games.

Getting it going early: Saturday was all about the Gators’ hot start. Florida scored the first eight points of the game, led 15-2 and took a 19-point advantage into the break. UF pushed its lead to 21 points in the second half and held on for the nine-point margin after giving up some garbage time baskets late. Even though the Gators faced some aforementioned adversity late in the second half – seeing shots not fall and their lead slowly slip away – they were able to get right back in the game and pull off the wire-to-wire win.

Everything else: Though Egbunu was not impressive at the line, he did hit 5-of-8 shots and grab seven boards … sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza was cooler than cool, only scoring two points on 0-for-5 shooting, but he did post nine assists to just one turnover and finished with a team-best +12 … junior PG Kasey Hill uncharacteristically hit 4-of-5 free throws to finish with 11 points … the Gators outrebounded the Rebels 39-29 but got outscored in the paint 34-24 … Florida had 18 assists on 24 baskets … UF led for 39:44 of the 40-minute game, scoring 16 seconds into the contest

Up next: UF will return home for back-to-back games as it hosts Mississippi State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs are currently at the bottom of the SEC standings with no wins in four league games. The game will air live nationally on ESPNU.

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