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Florida Gators beat Mississippi Rebels in basketball

UF rebounds from a bad loss in Missouri with a big home victory.
From left, Florida's Andrew Nembhard, Kerry Blackshear and Noah Locke are key parts of a team that has had its ups and downs this season. Tuesday's rout of Mississippi gets the Gators back on track. [WILFREDO LEE  |  AP]
From left, Florida's Andrew Nembhard, Kerry Blackshear and Noah Locke are key parts of a team that has had its ups and downs this season. Tuesday's rout of Mississippi gets the Gators back on track. [WILFREDO LEE | AP]
Published Jan. 15

GAINESVILLE — Florida responded from its worst performance of the season with one of its best.

It’s what most everyone has come to expect from coach Mike White’s consistently inconsistent team.

Keyontae Johnson scored 15, Kerry Blackshear added 13 and the Gators handled undermanned Ole Miss 71-55 on Tuesday night.

Coming off a 16-point loss at Missouri, the Gators (11-5, 3-1 SEC) were considerably more efficient on both ends against the Rebels (9-7, 0-3). They shot 54% from the field and forced 18 turnovers.

“We definitely needed a win after that,” Florida point guard Andrew Nembhard said. “It was kind of a bad loss for us at Missouri.”

Nembhard sliced through Ole Miss’ zone defense repeatedly, getting to the rim with NBA moves and finishing with 10 points and six assists.

Johnson did a little bit of everything, making 6 of 7 shots and adding chipping in six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Blackshear chipped in nine rebounds for Florida, ending up one board shy of his eighth double double of the season.

“Just coming out with more edge, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Nembhard said. “We’ve been slacking these last few games. We picked it up a lot on that side of the ball.”

Ole Miss played without leading scorer Breein Tyree, a senior who is averaging 17.8 points a game. Tyree bruised his back while landing hard on the floor in practice. Starting center Khadim Sy also didn’t make the trip.

“We thought he may play,” coach Kermit Davis said of Tyree. “I know one thing: when he can play, he’ll play. He just took a heck of a fall. Guy tried to block his shot, physical play, real clean play.”

KJ Buffen paced Ole Miss with 20 points. Sophomore Blake Hinson added 16 points and 11 rebounds for his first double double in college.

“I thought for the most part we competed,” Davis said. “We had a lot of guys that obviously hadn’t played that many minutes.”

The Gators were up 40-28 at halftime and scored the first seven points coming out of the locker room to really pull away. They led by as many as 23 in the second half.

Florida opened and closed the first half with huge runs. The Gators scored 14 of the game’s first 18 points, building a 10-point lead and looking like they would run the Rebels off the court.

Davis called two timeouts in the first 4-plus minutes of the game, trying everything he could to slow down the Gators. It eventually — albeit briefly — worked.

Ole Miss scored 10 straight points to get back in the game, with Hinson doing most of the heavy lifting. A sophomore who grew up about 100 miles southeast of Gainesville in Deltona, Hinson made two 3-pointers and a driving layup to help close the gap. His jumper midway through the first half gave the Rebels their first and only lead.

Florida went back in front for good on Johnson’s 3-pointer from the corner. That was part of seven consecutive made baskets for the Gators, who put together a 16-3 run to seize control.


White notched his 100th victory at Florida in his fifth season, becoming the program’s fifth coach to reach the mark and the second fastest. White accomplished the feat against his alma mater. Only Billy Donovan reached the 100-win milestone faster.

“I never would have imagined,” White said. “Pretty cool, though. I’ve had obviously really, really good players. Blessed to be at a terrific program. Hopefully we can win some more.”


Ole Miss: The Rebels are 0-3 in SEC play for the first time since 2011. They finished 7-9 that season under former coach Andy Kennedy. These Rebels might not be so fortunate, especially with an upcoming stretch that includes two games against LSU, one against Auburn and road tests against Tennessee and Georgia.

Florida: The Gators once again looked like many thought they would before the season. They’ve been up and down through 16 games, but clearly have the talent and depth to make an NCAA Tournament run.


Florida hosts No. 4 Auburn at 1:30 on Saturday (televised on CBS). The Tigers have won two straight in the series after dropping 21 of 22.


  1. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow holds the national championship trophy as safety Grant Delpit looks on after the Tigers beat Clemson 42-25 on Jan. 13 in New Orleans. [GERALD HERBERT  |  AP]
    The LSU Tigers faced five top-seven defenses, averaging 38 points against them.
  2. Coach Mike White has Florida come off a big home win over Auburn on Saturday and lose 84-82 at LSU three days later. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Video review shows time ran out just before Florida’s tying layup.
  3. Florida head coach Dan Mullen celebrates after the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game against Virginia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Florida won 36-28. [BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP]
    Defensive tackle signee Gervon Dexter has earned his fifth star.
  4. Florida forward Omar Payne (5) runs up court after making a shot against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. Payne was a perfect 9 for 9 shooting during the game. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Previewing the Gators’ 7 p.m game at LSU on Tuesday.
  5. IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR ALLSTATE - Tim Tebow and fiancé Demi Nel-Peters volunteer together alongside Allstate volunteers at a community service project to benefit the Einstein Charter School ahead of the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in New Orleans. (Cheryl Gerber/AP Images for Allstate) [CHERYL GERBER  |  AP]
    The former quarterback and current Mets minor leaguer previously said he planned to remain a virgin until marriage.
  6. Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen (41) takes aim for Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) during a 2018 game. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The grad transfer will be eligible immediately.
  7. Auburn center Austin Wiley guards Florida forward Omar Payne during the first half of their game on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Gainesville. Payne, a freshman out of Montverde Academy, finishes with a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double double in college. [MATT STAMEY  |  AP]
    Freshman Omar Payne has a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds as UF earns its most impressive victory of the season.
  8. Florida's Keyontae Johnson, shown here scoring against Arkansas in last season's SEC tournament, is averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds this season. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
    UF looks for an elite win Saturday at home, where it has won five in row, to help strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume.
  9. Florida guard Andrew Nembhard shoots over Mississippi guard Devontae Shuler during their game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Gainesville. [BRAD MCCLENNY  |  AP]
    Coach Mike White says his point guard missed practice Thursday and Friday. If he’s out, freshmen Tre Mann or Ques Glover likely will start Saturday.
  10. Todd Monken spent two seasons in Tampa Bay, the last as offensive coordinator, before being dismissed along with the rest of head coach Dirk Koetter's staff after the 2018 season.
    Tampa Bay’s former play-caller will be designing game plans for the Bulldogs against the Florida Gators next season.