Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators take care of business with thorough win at Mizzou

By OnlyGators.com Staff
January 20, 2024
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators take care of business with thorough win at Mizzou

Image Credit: UAA

One could not blame the Florida Gators for getting off to a slow start on Saturday night in Columbia, Missouri, playing on the road for the second time this week and third time in the last four games. Ultimately, Florida flexed its muscles in the second half, proving it was the better program on the way to a thorough 79-67 victory, its first win on the road this season.

Let’s take a look at what went right for the Gators, which improved to 12-6 (2-3 SEC) on the season.

It was over when … junior guard Will Richard hit two free throws to give Florida a game-high 14-point lead with 2:57 to play. Sophomore G Riley Kugel hit his second 3-pointer to give the Gators their first double-digit lead with 7:36 remaining, one they would not relinquish over the remainder of the contest. Junior G Walter Clayton Jr. sandwiched that triple with four free throws for a 7-0 run that put Florida up 13 points with 6:23 left.

First half focus: The Gators were all discombobulated offensively, struggling to put the ball in the basket despite hitting 5 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc. Clayton did the heavy lifting with his nine points coming on 3 of 4 shooting from downtown, and Florida hit 5 of 6 free throws over the final 3:55 to lead by three at the break.

Exceptional efforts: Five Gators scored in double figures with Clayton (15 points) and senior forward Tyrese Samuel (17) leading the way. Samuel hit 5 of 6 shots and 7 of 12 attempts from the charity stripe. Sophomore center Micah Handlogten achieved his second double-double of the season (first since Nov. 10) with 10 points (5/7 FG) and 13 rebounds, and while Richard scored 13 and redshirt senior point guard Zyon Pullin posted 11 points doing his work by hitting all six of his free throw attempts. (Credit to Mizzou’s Tamar Bates for scoring 36 of his team’s 67 points with only one other player hitting double figures.)

Odds & ends: Florida improved to 10-4 all-time against Missouri with a 4-3 mark on the road and 2-0 record under head coach Todd Golden … the Gators are now to 11-2 this season when leading at halftime, 11-1 when leading with 5 minutes left, 12-0 when outshooting an opponent overall and 8-1 when outshooting an opponent downtown … UF hit 69% of its free throws and 41% of its triples … Florida again dominated the paint with edges rebounding (40-27, 13-4 offensive) and scoring (24-18) … the Gators also had a 13-2 scoring edge on second-chance points

What it means: Florida did its job winning handily as a road favorite. Mizzou keeping the game close early was largely a symptom of the Gators’ offensive issues, and once they figured those out coming out of halftime, the visitors were able to pull away. These are the games Florida usually wins, ones in which it leads at halftime, outshoots its opponent and dominates the boards. The games in which UF faces adversity are the ones it will need to start taking if it hopes to compete with the best programs in the nation, reach the postseason and make a significant run.

What’s next? The Gators will benefit from a two-game homestand after spending the entire last week on the road. Florida hosts Mississippi State on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network) before Georgia comes to town for the first of two meetings Saturday at noon (ESPN2).

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