Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators rally past Mizzou behind Tyrese Samuel’s career night

By OnlyGators.com Staff
February 28, 2024
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators rally past Mizzou behind Tyrese Samuel’s career night

Image Credit: UAA

A dominant offensive performance from redshirt senior center Tyrese Samuel led the No. 24 Florida Gators back to a double-digit lead in the waining seconds Wednesday night before the program ultimately prevailed 83-74 over the Missouri Tigers in Gainesville, Florida. This despite the Gators finding their lead cut to a single point late in the second half.

Ultimately, Florida improved to 13-1 at home on the campaign and improved to 8-2 in its last two games with three contests remaining in the 2023-24 regular season. Let’s take a look at what went down inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

It was over when … Samuel completed a three-point play with a free throw after a dunk to push the Gators ahead by nine points with 1:10 remaining. Florida struggled to pull away from Mizzou squad that entered 0-14 in SEC play, seeing its game-high 11-point lead cut to one after a 10-1 Tigers run midway through the second half. Mizzou again dropped its deficit to a single point with 5:30 to play, but Samuel and redshirt senior point guard Zyon Pullin put on a two-man show, scoring UF’s final nine points of the game.

First half focus: Florida ended the opening period up 37-28 after a 9-4 burst. Samuel and junior guard Walter Clayton Jr. combined for 22 points and nine rebounds, though both teams struggled finding the bottom of the basket.

Exceptional efforts: Samuel posted career-highs of 28 points and 12 made field goals, shooting 75% from the field with 10 rebounds for a double-double. He was dominant in the second half, scoring 14 of the Gators’ final 22 points in the period. Pullin was also outstanding with 21 points on 4 of 5 shooting from long range. He actually scored 17 second-half points (one more than Samuel) and filled a key scoring role for Florida given Clayton fouled out with 14 minutes to play and the rest of the team was basically silent from the floor. Sopomore center Micah Handlongten’s contributions might have been overlooked due to the efforts of Samuel and Pullin. Handlogten also finished with a double-double of 12 points and 12 boards, hitting 6 of 8 shots

Disappearing acts: Junior G Will Richard was ice cold Wednesday, hitting just 1 of 9 field goals with eight attempts coming from beyond the arc. he contributed with four assists and three boards but also had three fouls and two turnovers. Meanwhile, sophomore G Riley Kugel may as well have not been on the court. He played his most minutes (20) since Feb. 17 but scored just three points. He has not scored in double digits since Feb. 10, and last season’s breakout star now appears to be nothing more than a rotational player.

Odds & ends: Florida improved to 11-4 all-time against Missouri with a 6-1 record in Gainesville and 3-0 mark under head coach Todd Golden … the Gators are now 17-4 this season when leading at halftime, 18-3 when leading with 5 minutes left … Florida is 17-4 when outrebounding an opponent, 12-0 when shooting better than 45% from the field, 16-1 when outshooting an opponent, 14-3 when outshooting an opponent from downtown and 13-4 when taking more free throws

What it means: The Gators avoided a disastrous loss against a team that has largely been noncompetitive in SEC play. Florida did what it was supposed to do: beat an inferior opponent. Most notable was how well the Gators played offensively with Clayton, their leading scorer, sidelined. Florida shot 65.4% in the second half, took high-percentage shots and dominated the boards with a 38-27 rebounding edge. It will need to play much better given the opponents upcoming, but a win is a win.

What’s next? The Gators will alternate home-and-away for the remainder of the season. Next up is a trip to No. 18 South Carolina for a top-25 showdown on Saturday at noon. The game will air live nationally on ESPN.

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