By now you know the drill. Thus far, the SEC just can’t hang with the Florida Gators men’s basketball team.
Even up against a ranked opponent, Florida (18-2, 8-0 SEC) continues to shine. The Gators had a modest lead for most of the game, and Ole Miss (17-4, 6-2 SEC) could only manage striking distance as too much team ball propelled Florida to a 78-64 win Saturday night.
The SEC’s leading scorer kept the game interesting from start to finish. Rebel guard Marshall Henderson could not be stopped as he went 8 of 15 from the floor including 7 of 11 from beyond the arc; his 25 points were a game high, a stat that baffled Florida head coach Billy Donovan.
Of course, what they tried to do didn’t always go according to plan. Scottie Wilbekin, as he has done all season, had the tall task of covering the other team’s best player. Henderson rose to the occasion and made three after three with Wilbekin and numerous other defenders hovering all over him. While Wilbekin did all he could, at the end of the night number 22 played on fire. However Wilbekin also did manage to block a couple of Henderson’s shots along the way.
Only one other Ole Miss player managed double figures. Forward Murphy Holloway had 15 but could not find his shot as he went just 5 of 16 from the field. For Florida, it was typical Billy Ball; four of the five starters had 10 or more points. Erik Murphy led the team with 19 point on 7of 8 shooting, Mike Rosario had 14, Scottie Wilbekin had 13, and Patric Young also added 13 points. Young ended with 12 rebounds as well. The double-double was actually the first one for Young against an SEC opponent. The junior center has come a long way since his sparing minutes as a freshman and Donovan says Young looks better than he has in a long time.
For most teams, the 14 point margin of victory seems huge. But for a team that has blown out all other SEC foes by no less than 17, anything less just doesn’t feel right.
Regardless of how big or small victory, the Gators will take a W in any way they can get it. First year starter Mike Rosario says a win is a win.
Florida is now up two games in the Southeastern Conference. Despite the cushion, Coach Donovan stresses the importance of fighting through a long season.
The halfway point that Donovan speaks of comes next Tuesday night. For the first time in over a week the team will be on the road in Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. As always, that game can be heard on ESPN Radio 850/900.