Wednesday, February 22, 2017

UF Basketball: No. 13 Florida Crushes South Carolina in Rematch

The No. 13 Florida Gators (23-5, 13-2 SEC) won their ninth straight game with a convincing 81-66 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks (20-6, 10-5 SEC). It was 35-32 in favor of the Gators entering halftime, but an offensive explosion coupled with great defense helped Florida run away with this one in the second half. At one point, their largest lead was 18 points with 3:33 remaining in the game!

Florida's Leading Men
Three of Florida's starting five scored in double-digits with sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen posting a game-high 26 points. He shot 5-7 on his field goal attempts (3-5 from three-point land) while making all but one of his team-high 14 free throws.

Allen also totaled a team-high seven rebounds with three assists, one block, and two steals. Also worth mentioning is the fact he did not commit ANY personal fouls in 36 minutes of playing time.

The next leading scorer in the starting lineup was junior forward Devin Robinson. D-Rob went 5-9 from the field (3-6 on his three-point attempts) as he scored 14 points. On the boards, he brought down six rebounds while leading the team with three blocks and recording two steals.

The final Gator starter in double-digits was senior guard Kasey Hill. He took the most shot attempts among his teammates as he went 4-10 from the field. He had two assists and one steal as well.

Off the bench, Chris Chiozza made his 24 minutes of playing time count. In that span, he netted 12 points while shooting 3-6 and making his lone three-point attempt. He was 5-6 from the line and also led the team with four assists while corralling three rebounds and notching a steal.

South Carolina's Leading Men
Though they were soundly defeated, the Gamecocks had two players who got after it against the Gators. The first player (to no one's surprise) was senior guard Sindarius Thornwell. He shot 6-12 from the field while scoring 23 points and reeling in 10 rebounds for a double double. He made all 11 of his free throws and accounted for three of his team's seven assists.

Along with Thornwell, senior guard Duane Notice registered 16 points on a 5-11 shooting effort. He made two of his six three-point attempts and went 4-5 from the free throw line.

Final Takeaway
Unlike their trip to Columbia, the Gators 1) won the game and 2) made a three-pointer (nine to be exact). South Carolina, on the other hand, only made 3 of their 14 shots from beyond the arc. Before looking ahead to No. 13 Florida's next matchup, here are my final tidbits on the South Carolina win:

  • Filling in for the injured John Egbunu for the second straight game, Kevarrius Hayes led the team with three steals in 24 minutes of playing time. He totaled six rebounds (three offensive and three defensive) in the contest.
  • This is Florida's first home win over South Carolina since January 8, 2014.
  • The only player to foul out of the game was South Carolina's Chris Silva with 38.6 seconds remaining in the second half.
  • The attendance tonight was 11,051. This is the second highest in the history of the renovated O-Dome. Obviously, Kentucky holds the top spot with an attendance of 11,171.

Looking to extend their win steak to double-digits, the Gators will be tasked with quite a challenge as they head to Rupp Arena to take on the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats (23-5, 13-2 SEC). For anyone who forgot, the Gators absolutely stomped the Wildcats at the O-Dome with an 88-66 victory in their February 4th meeting. 

Now in the rematch, it's safe to say that Kentucky will be looking for revenge. It does not help Florida either that Egbunu is out and that the Rowdies won't be there to get in the Wildcats' heads. This Gator team is good, but in my opinion they won't have enough in the tank to take down Kentucky in Rupp.

The last time Florida beat Kentucky in Rupp was my freshman year on February 15, 2014, by a score of 69-59. Since then, the Gators have lost by scores of 67-50 and 80-61 in Lexington. Hopefully this year's contest up there will be a more competitive one. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. The game can be seen on CBS and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network. Whoever wins will have sole possession of first place in the SEC.

As for South Carolina, they have now dropped three straight games and are also three games out of first place in the SEC. They will look to right the ship as they return to Columbia to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (15-12, 7-7 SEC). Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.



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