Florida rebounds from first SEC loss with an 83-58 win over Mississippi State
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Senior guard Mike Rosario scored a teeam-high 18 points, and reserves Michael Frazier II and Casey Prather combined for 23 points and 11 rebounds to help lead No. 2 Florida to an 83-58 victory over Mississippi State Saturday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The Gators (19-3, 9-1 SEC) shot 55.2 percent from the field in the first half, 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Florida missed its first five 3-pointers, then hit five of six on the way to a 31-16 lead with 7:36 remaining in the first half. Frazier hit 3-pointers on three of five straight possessions to help extend the lead. Frazier got his first career start in place of junior guard Scottie Wilbekin, whom UF coach Billy Donovan said was benched for a lack of energy and enthusiasm in practice this past week.
“I was just trying to come in and help any way I can,’’ said Frazier, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds.” “My role is to bring energy to this team, and if that’s starting or coming off the bench, that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Mississippi State (7-15, 2-8), which lost to the Gators by 35 earlier in the season, played without suspended junior guard Jalen Steele, and the Bulldogs had just eight scholarship players.
Prather, still recovering from a high ankle sprain, had a season-high 12 points, five rebounds, one block and one steal.
“I just know I have to bring more energy to the table,’’ Prather said. “Without (Yeguete), we are losing on defense and rebounding, so I wanted to step up and do what I could.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he was pleased with the way the Gators rebounded from Tuesday’s loss, but said they still need to improve, particularly on defense.
“We’ve got to get even more focused defensively than we’ve been,’’ he said. “Looking down the stat sheet today against Mississippi State who has struggled to score, they got right around their average and they ended up shooting around 46 percent in the second half. That’s too high of a percentage. So we’ve got to see where we made some mistakes, and I think some guys have got to grow and get better.”
More from Donovan on the game and why he chose not to start Wilbekin against Mississippi State.