Chandler Parsons and Vernon Macklin lead Gators to 69-62 victory over Mississippi State
Macklin had a career-high 20 points and Parsons added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
“Honestly, the double-double means nothing to me, it’s just the win was so huge,’' Parsons said. “I knew that I was going to have to rebound tonight so I wasn’t worried about how many, I just wanted to make sure I rebounded and not let my guy rebound.’’
Macklin and Parsons were a combined 15-of-22 from the field - and on a day when guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton struggled (12-of-23), the rest of the team was 10-of-40 from the field.
Florida (17-6, 6-3 SEC) trailed Mississippi State by two at halftime, but Florida opened the second half by dominating the inside via Macklin. He scored 12 of Florida’s first 14 second-half points. The Gators held their own against Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado - the nation's second-leading shot blocker.
“We weren’t really going at him (Varnado),’’ Macklin said. “A lot of the guards saw I was open and they passed the ball down low and I decided to make a strong move. I got good looks, and I decided to make those shots. I just wanted to make a strong move to the basket.’’
Trailing 41-39, Florida went on a 16-4 run to take a 55-45 lead. But the Bulldogs (16-7, 4-4) mounted a 7-0 run down the stretch to pull within five (61-56) with 1:10 remaining. The Gators hit 8-of-10 free throws in the final minute to seal the win. Florida outrebounded the Bulldogs - who are the second-best rebounding team in the SEC, 46-35. Varnado scored 16 points and had 13 rebounds and one block, but was held to 6-of-16 shooting from the field.
“I think it's huge for us,’’ UF coach Billy Donovan said of the win. “It's something that you can really build inside a team because here's a game where an Erving Walker less than 36 hours ago makes a game-winning shot, made a lot of big shots, Kenny Boynton made a couple plays coming down the stretch (in a win over Alabama), then all of a sudden offensively they don't play well. Now can you really enjoy and take pleasure at your teammates stepping up and being able to do some of that.’’