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Florida Men’s Hoops Outshines Ole Miss on 90’s Night

Dorian Finney-Smith and John Egbunu were the “Fresh Princes” of Gainesville on Tuesday night, with the duo combining for 30 points and 16 rebounds as the Florida men’s basketball team downs Ole Miss 77-72 on “90’s Night” at the O’Connell Center. Four different Florida players reached double digit scoring against the Rebels including Dorian Finney-Smith (16), KeVaughn Allen (15), Devin Robinson (15) and John Egbunu (14). Egbunu also picked up his fourth double-double of the season. Florida head coach Mike White called the game the best of Devin Robinson’s Gator career.

Ole Miss’ leading scorer on the season, Stefan Moody, fouled out with 1:09 remaining in the game, finishing with 19 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the floor. Despite playing only 29 minutes due to foul trouble, Moody still finished second in scoring on the Rebels, while Tomasz Gielo led Ole Miss with 20 points and eight rebounds. Coach White discussed Moody’s incredible skill.

Ole Miss almost came back at the end of this one due to the Gators many mishaps on offense. Florida turned the ball over 16 times on Tuesday night, which translated into 28 points for Ole Miss. Despite the Rebels’ losing effort, Coach White praised Ole Miss’ defense and talked about how his team will try and fix their turnover problem.

John Egbunu got the crowd fired up with a powerful space jam in the first few minutes to silence the Rebels’ bench and get the Rowdies going. Egbunu was all that and more for the Gators, scoring eight points in the first half to go along with five rebounds. Egbunu had previously come off the bench after what head coach Mike White described as a bad week of practice, but has since returned to the starting lineup. Despite the hot start, Ole Miss led 9-7 after the first five minutes.

As one of the highest fouling teams in the NCAA, Coach White and the Gators have been trying to tone down their sloppy play, while keeping up the same defensive tenacity. Florida did just that in the first half, picking up their first team foul with just 10:44 left in the first 20 minutes. Rumor had it that Coach White had switched the traditional Gatorade for a more throwback, Crystal Pepsi.

With 8:27 left in the first half, Stefan Moody picked up his third foul after going just 1 of 4 from the floor to start the game. With the Rebels’ prolific scorer out, the Gators started to settle into their defense, allowing them to get into transition on offense. With five minutes left in the first half, Florida led by five.

The Gators closed the half on a 7-0 run, taking a 36-29 lead into the locker room. KeVaughn Allen led Florida with 10 points as six different Gator players scored in the first frame. Moody played only 10 minutes in the first half; he came into the game leading Ole Miss in minutes per game this season, averaging 35.1 a game.

Feb 9, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators forward Devin Robinson (3) reacts as he shoots a three pointer against the Mississippi Rebels during the second half at Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Florida Gators defeated the Mississippi Rebels 77-72. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Play was sloppy in the first half with Ole Miss and Florida combining for 17 total turnovers. While the Gators didn’t do much with the Rebels’ nine turnovers, Ole Miss turned Florida’s eight giveaways into 13 points. The Gators’ main first half advantage came on the boards, outrebounding the Rebels, 19-17, while grabbing six offensive boards. Sebastian Saiz and Tomasz Gielo had 10 of Ole Miss’ 17 first half rebounds.

Ole Miss came out of the locker room with the chutzpah of Frank Costanza on Festivus, forcing three turnovers in the first two minutes of the second half, tying the game up at 36 with 18 minutes left to play.

With 15:46 left in the game, the Rebels took their first lead of the second half, and their first since the 14:53 mark of the first half. Ole Miss got there with an 11-7 run to open up the final 20 minutes.

After the Tomasz Gielo three-pointer with 15:46 that gave the Rebels their first lead of the second half, Florida seemed to turn on an offensive switch they’d been missing all game. The Gators went on a 13-3 run to take their biggest lead of the second half up to that point, going up 50-43 with 12:28 left in the game. Combined with the Rowdies energy and Florida’s fast paced offense, you could say the Gators started to feel those “good vibrations.”

With two minutes left, the Gators and Rebels found themselves in a one-point contest, with Florida leading, 67-66.  Unfortunately for Ole Miss, Stefan Moody would foul out with 1:09 left sealing the Rebels’ last shot at a comeback. The Gators would go on to win 77-72, improving to 16-8 on the season.

Florida will return to the hardwood on Saturday night, when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at the O’Dome at 5:30 p.m. The Tide have won three of their last four games by a margin of +16.

About Jake Winderman

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