COLUMBIA, Mo. — Dru Smith scored 22 and dished six assists to lead Missouri to a 91-75 victory over Florida on Saturday night.
The Tigers (9-6, 1-2 SEC), who entered the game ranked next-to-last in the league in scoring offense, tied their season-high point total. They shot a blistering 61.5 percent from the field and 63.2 from 3-point range. Javon Pickett and Mark Smith scored 14 each, and Mitchell Smith finished with 10.
Kerry Blackshear score 22, Noah Locke added 12 and Scottie Lewis had 10 for the Gators (10-5, 2-1), who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Mark Smith sank a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession, and the Tigers were off and running. In the first half, they created fast breaks with five steals, scored 20 points in the paint and made 8 of 11 shots from beyond the arc. Xavier Pinson drew one of the biggest roars of the season from the Mizzou Arena crowd when he led the break, faked a pass to the right corner and dunked in traffic to give Missouri a 13-5 lead. The Tigers led 51-36 at halftime.
The second half started the same way, as Mitchell Smith sank a 3-pointer, causing an animated Florida coach Mike White to call a timeout just 40 seconds after intermission. The Gators cut an 18-point deficit to 10 after Tre Mann hit a 3-pointer with 14:50 left, and they had Missouri in so much foul trouble they were shooting free throws in the bonus at the 13:20 mark. But Florida couldn’t get enough defensive stops to get any closer.
Florida: After road games, the Gators usually fly right back to Gainesville, but White decided before the trip to spend an extra night in Missouri because of ice and snow in the forecast. The coach said he was concerned that flight delays might cost his players valuable sleep.
Missouri: It improved to 6-0 when scoring at least 70 points. Offense has been the problem most of the season. They scored just 59 points in each of their first two SEC games. They almost reached that total by halftime against the Gators.
Florida: Hosts Mississippi on Tuesday.
Missouri: At Mississippi State on Tuesday.