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Gators win in overtime

A veteran and a rookie combined Wednesday to help Florida edge Mississippi 86-84 in overtime.

Junior forward Stacey Poole matched his career high with 26 points and had 12 rebounds. But it was freshman guard Dan Cross who scored the winning points on a 12-foot jumper in the lane with 26 seconds left in overtime.

After Cross' basket put UF ahead 85-84, Mississippi's Kevin Watkins, who had a career-high 32 points, missed on a drive with seven seconds left. Poole rebounded and was fouled.

After Poole made one free throw, Mississippi's Cedric Brim drove the length of the court but missed a 15-footer at the buzzer.

It was the first Southeastern Conference road victory in five tries for the Gators (5-5 SEC, 12-9 overall), and it lifted them into a tie for second with Tennessee in the SEC East Division. The Volunteers lost to Mississippi State on Wednesday night. Mississippi dropped to 3-7 and 10-11.

Cross (four points), Poole (four) and Hosie Grimsley (three) scored all of the overtime points for the Gators.

Cross made his winning shot over Donald Jenkins _ taking him into the lane, then pulling up for the jumper.

"I knew if I went up as high as I could he couldn't stay with me and block it," said Cross, who had 10 points.

Asked if it wasn't a bold move for a freshman to make with his team trailing and the clock under 30 seconds, Cross replied: "This freshman thing is over with. Everybody's a ballplayer now. I know I'm still young and I'm going to make some mistakes, but you've got to make that play."

It was the third two-point loss of the season for Mississippi.

"This one hurts more," said Watkins. "This one hurts because in overtime we had the game in our hands a couple of times and we should have won it."

The Rebels trailed by as much as 14 in the first half and by seven at halftime. There were four ties and four lead changes in the second half, and the game went into overtime when UF's Craig Brown missed twice from 15 feet in the final five seconds.

Mississippi scored the first five points of overtime for an 80-75 lead. The Gators rallied behind Poole, Cross and Grimsley, who had 14 points.

The game wasn't over, however, until Brim missed his shot at the buzzer.

"I got a pretty good shot," said Brim, trying to manage a smile. "I put it off the glass. Unfortunately it didn't go in."

Perhaps the most disappointed Rebel was forward Joe Harvell, who was held to 15 points, 10 below his league-leading average. Harvell made just 6 of 20 shots. "This is one game where my teammates played great and I didn't come through for them," said Harvell.

Poole guarded Harvell most of the game.

"We thought we could win here," said Poole. "We knew we had to get off to a good start, and I wanted to make sure Joe had a hand in his face. I was really a little lucky that he had an off game."

The Gators made 7 of 10 free throws in overtime, Mississippi made just 1 of 4.

"We did a good job of keeping our composure to come from five points down and win the game," said UF coach Lon Kruger.