Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida beats Missouri in Chris Walker's debut

Chris Walker stuffs Missouri’s Earnest Ross in the first half of his college debut, in which he had four points and two rebounds.

Getty Images

Chris Walker stuffs Missouri’s Earnest Ross in the first half of his college debut, in which he had four points and two rebounds.

GAINESVILLE — Since news broke last week that freshman forward Chris Walker had finally been declared eligible by the NCAA beginning with Tuesday night's game against Missouri, Florida coach Billy Donovan and players spent an inordinate amount of time reminding anyone who'd listen that Walker was no savior and Missouri would be no pushover.

It turns out both were true.

Guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson kept Missouri in the game for about 30 minutes, but ultimately it wasn't enough.

Trailing 45-43, Florida put together a 16-3 run over six minutes — aided by three 3-pointers from sophomore guard Michael Frazier — to battle its way to a 68-58 win in front of 12,123 at the O'Connell Center.

The No. 3 Gators (20-2, 9-0 SEC) have won 28 straight home games and have had 16 straight 20-win seasons under Donovan.

"This was really, really a hard game for us because it was a struggle the whole way through," Donovan said. "Nothing came easy for us. Even when we played great defense, they made shots. … It was good to see our guys go through that struggle and find a way to win."

Walker's debut produced two spectacular made-for-TV dunks (both on alley-oop assists from former AAU teammate Kasey Hill), but the freshman's impact was limited. He had four points, two rebounds and two blocks in seven minutes.

"It feels good to finally be a part of the team," Walker said. "I just wanted to do what I could to help."

Meanwhile, Donovan's concern about the Tigers' hot-scoring guards was valid. Brown, the SEC's leading scorer, and Jordan Clarkson combined for 29 points on 10-of-27 shooting.

"I think we did an okay job on them," said senior guard Scottie Wilbekin, who had a career-high 19 points. "We could have done better. We let them get loose. If you let up, they are going to get loose, that's how good they are."

Meanwhile, Frazier (14 points) got hot at just the right time. Before hitting his three consecutive 3-pointers, he was 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Florida trailed 28-25 at halftime, the first time the Gators had trailed at the half since a Dec. 2 loss to UConn. They held Missouri to 36 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in the second half.

"We moved the ball around a lot better, we were getting up and down and playing a lot better defense and that helped us as a whole," UF senior center Patric Young said.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

Florida beats Missouri in Chris Walker's debut 02/04/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 12:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. As NCAA investigation continues, Baylor dances around sex-assault scandal

    College

    In 1996, Southern Baptist-affiliated Baylor University lifted its 151-year-old ban and allowed dancing on its Waco, Texas campus.

  2. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  5. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399