STARKVILLE, Miss. — No. 24 Florida lost to Mississippi State 71-64 on Saturday, done in by a familiar problem — missed free throws — and an unexpected issue — cold shooting from the field.
Mississippi State junior point guard Dee Bost, playing with his front teeth glued together after taking an elbow to the face earlier in the week, scored 24 points.
"Our chemistry keeps getting better and better," Bost said. "We just need to keep fighting."
Bost was playing in his sixth game after missing the first 14. He lost five games due to academic issues and then served a nine-game NCAA suspension for failing to pull out of the NBA draft by the deadline.
The Bulldogs (11-9, 3-3 SEC) have won four of the past five against the Gators (16-5, 5-2).
Only four Mississippi State players scored, but all were in double figures. Ravern Johnson scored 15 as the Bulldogs beat a ranked team for the first time this season.
Florida trailed 51-42 early in the second half but went on a 13-1 run. The game was tight from there, with five lead changes. But the Bulldogs pushed ahead in the final minute, making 6 of 6 free throws.
Florida was 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) at the free-throw line, including several misses in the final minutes. The Gators went in 10th in the SEC in free-throw shooting at 66.2 percent.
Vernon Macklin made a free throw to tie it at 64 with 3:32 left, but the Gators were scoreless after that.
"We had a great opportunity to come out on the road and get a win, and we just shot ourselves in the foot on the foul line," said Florida's Chandler Parsons, who had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Erving Walker led the Gators with 18 points, shooting 6-of-17. Macklin added 10 points and six rebounds.
Florida dominated in the paint, outscoring Mississippi State 38-16, and held a 17-0 advantage in bench scoring. UF outrebounded Mississippi State 43-37, getting 17 offensive rebounds.
Ten Gators scored at least two points, but normally sharp-shooting UF was 25-of-63 (39.7 percent) from the field.
"On the road you want to put yourself in position to win," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "We felt this was going to be a battle all the way through. We certainly did not make shots or key free throws down the stretch."
Mississippi State had a 40-38 advantage at halftime after leading by as many as 10.
"We guarded Florida about as well as you can guard them," coach Rick Stansbury said.