Florida’s sheer athleticism was too much for the Ole Miss Rebels on Tuesday night at the Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center as the Gators hustled their way to a 70-63 victory in their first home, SEC contest. Canyon Barry tied his season-high in points with 20 on 8-14 shooting and was 3-6 from downtown. Kasey Hill filled out the stat sheet well, finishing with 8 points, 6 steals, 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
“It’s fun, I love getting those guys shots and getting those guys going,” said Kasey Hill in response to a question about him facilitating the offense. “It’s gets me going, I’m happy whenever they score. Canyon, DRob, I love when they hit shots.”
Florida forced 21 turnovers, turning Ole Miss’ giveaways into 18 points. The Gators got a solid performance from their reserves as they outscored the Rebels in bench points, 28-15. KeVaughn Allen was money from three-point range once again knocking down four of his seven looks from downtown, finishing with 14 points.
“He was probably the MVP for us tonight, not only making shots but driving it [too],” Coach Mike White said about Canyon Barry’s impressive performance.
Little dunk contest before the game. Tip off in less than five. pic.twitter.com/7WZWL1hSxs
— Jake Winderman (@jakewinderman) January 3, 2017
“I think we did a good job beating them down the floor, but in the second half they did a good job of getting back,” said KeVaughn Allen.
The Gators got off to an 8-0 lead to start the game thanks to early three-pointers on back-to-back possessions by KeVaughn Allen and Devin Robinson. Allen was 5-9 in the Gators’ previous game against Arkansas, and was looking for another strong performance from beyond the arc.
A 6-0 run by the Rebels brought Ole Miss back to within two and forced Mike White to call his first timeout with 14:29 left in the first twenty minutes. Sebastian Saiz was able to corral five rebounds in the first five and a half minutes.
Canyon Barry was able to engineer nine straight points for the Gators after a near four-minute scoring drought. Barry’s surge gave Florida a 19-14 lead with 9:27 remaining in the first half. Barry was one of a few Gators to get off to a rough start, but gained some momentum following the scoring burst.
A 12-4 run gave Florida a 21-14 lead with 8:05 left in the first frame, causing Andy Kennedy to take a 30-second timeout. Kasey Hill’s energy and athleticism helped facilitate the Gators’ offense during the run.
Florida took their first double-digit lead of the game on a KeVaughn Allen steal and full-court assist to Kasey Hill, who finished the opportunity with a lay-up. The Gators went up 31-20 on the transition opportunity with just over three minutes left in the first half.
Late First Half Spurt
Florida ended the first half on an 11-1 run and went into halftime with a 35-21 lead. Kasey Hill was Mr. Everything for the Gators in the first half as he finished the first frame with eight points, five steals, four rebounds and four assists. KeVaughn Allen led UF in first half scoring with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown, adding three rebounds. Sebastian Saiz finished the first half with eight points and seven rebounds, playing the most minutes of any Rebel.
Ole Miss couldn’t stop turning the ball over in the first half, committing 14 giveaways, leading to 12 points for Florida. While the Rebels outrebounded the Gators, 19-14, Florida grabbed two more offensive boards than Ole Miss in the first half.
The Rebels scored most of their points in the paint, finishing with 14 of their 21 first half points in the interior. The majority of Florida’s scoring in the first twenty minutes came off three-pointers, where they knocked down 6-of-16 shots from beyond the arc.
KeVaughn Allen opened the second half with a three-pointer giving the Gators a 38-21 lead. Devin Robinson followed Allen’s three-pointer up with a mid-range jumper from near the baseline extending Florida’s lead to 19.
An 0-5 stretch for the Gators brought Ole Miss back within nine with 14:08 left to play in the game. The Rebels opened the second frame 4-of-6 from the floor and looked like the more put together towards the middle of the second half.
Canyon Barry and Justin Leon had enough of the Rebels’ run, propelling the Gators on a quick two-minute, 9-0 run. The stretch put Florida up by 18 with just under 12 minutes left in the game.
With just under four minutes left in the contest, Canyon Barry tied his season-high with 20 points. That shot put Florida up 16 at the time.
Ole Miss closed the game on a 14-5 run but it wouldn’t be enough as the Gator took down the Rebels, 70-63.
Florida’ next game is on Saturday, as the Gators take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Gainesville at 5:15 p.m.