Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Florida Gators rally for 64-60 basketball win at Mississippi Rebels

OXFORD, Miss. — Florida's Kenny Boynton had read his scouting report on Mississippi. The synopsis: The Rebels play defense but can't shoot.

That proved true — eventually.

The 14th-ranked Gators clawed back from a double-digit first-half deficit to beat Mississippi 64-60 on Thursday night. Patric Young scored 15 and Boynton added 12 as Florida won for the sixth time in seven games.

"The best thing for us was we never panicked," Boynton said. "We were playing defense, but they hit tough shots and were just killing it. In the second half we guarded the 3-point line a little better, but really, it was just kind of the law of averages."

The Gators (16-4, 4-1) remain third in the SEC, a half-game behind Vanderbilt and 11/2 games behind Kentucky.

Florida has one of the quick scheduling turnarounds that coach Billy Donovan recently complained about, playing host to Mississippi State (17-4, 4-2) at 1:30 Saturday (Ch. 38, 620-AM).

Boynton said keeping cool was tough when Ole Miss was hitting 6 of 6 3-pointers in the first half. Florida trailed 20-4 in the opening minutes and 38-28 at halftime. The Gators worked their way back with lockdown defense and clutch 3-pointers from Boynton and Mike Rosario.

Ole Miss went in as the worst 3-point-shooting SEC team, at 27.2 percent.

"We knew they had to miss at some point," Boynton said.

Young shot 7-of-10, continuing to come off the bench because of tendinitis in his right ankle.

"I thought that our guys stayed the course," Donovan said. "I never thought they got rattled or overwhelmed."

Terrance Henry had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Mississippi (13-7, 3-3), which shot 60.9 percent in the first half and 27.6 percent in the second. The physical Rebels outrebounded UF 41-23.

Ole Miss got the pace it wanted from the beginning, forcing a half-court, physical game that negated the Gators' superior guard play.

Florida slowly climbed back into the game in the second half behind Young and well-timed 3-pointers, including Scottie Wilbekin's with 10:11 remaining that tied it at 46. Young's dunk gave the Gators a 48-46 lead, their first since the opening minutes.

Rosario put the Gators ahead for good with 5:29 remaining, hitting a 3-pointer for a 53-52 lead. Boynton gave Florida some separation minutes later, hitting consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to 59-54.

Ole Miss pulled within 63-60 with 18 seconds remaining and forced a jump to take possession. But Marcus Aniefiok had the ball slapped away, and Bradley Beal hit a free throw to clinch it.

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