The Florida Gators men’s basketball team (16-8, 7-4 SEC) beat the Ole Miss Rebels (15-9, 5-6 SEC) at 77-72 on Tuesday night at home in Gainesville, Florida in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
From the tip both teams were battling hard for the ball and baskets went back-and-forth, resulting in the game getting tied up three times in the first seven minutes. It was hard to see which team would take off with the momentum.
That is until Florida decided the third time was the charm to take off with the lead from the tied up game at 9 with 13:55 to go in the half. Dorian Finney-Smith and Devin Robinson fired off back-to-back baskets, giving the Gators a four-point lead with 12:23 on the clock.
KeVaughn Allen kept the momentum going with two free throws, giving the Gators a little 6-0 run over the Rebels. Ole Miss managed to cut Florida’s lead down to three before the Gators took off once again, this time on a 7-0 run. Five of those seven points came from Kasey Hill, with two free throws and a three-ball.
The Gators were starting to get hot offensively and also got a huge defensive break when leading SEC scorer Stefan Moody got benched halfway through the first half with three fouls.
Florida now had the upper hand with a 10-point lead at 22-12 with 8:50 before halftime. However, the Rebels quickly took that wiggle room away as they slowly chipped at the Gators lead until they got them to yet another tie. This time, the game was tied up at 29 with just 2:12 on the clock for the first half.
A trey ball from Allen followed with a John Egbunu basket and a pair of free throws from Devin Robinson helped the Gators avoid giving away the lead before halftime. Florida fought to stay in control as they hit the locker room with a 36-29 lead.
Coming back from halftime, the Rebels came out with a fire under them. They were not ready to let the Gators defeat them for a second time. Moody was back in the game and quickly four points of their 6-0 run to tie up the game at 36 just two minutes into the second half.
A free throw from Kasey Hill gave the Gators back the lead, but not for long as the Rebels made a free throw of their own to tie up the game again at 37. Ole Miss’ Tomasz Gielo stole the Rebels second lead of the game with a basket from downtown, putting them up 40-37.
Devin Robinson and Dorian Finney-Smith were not impressed with the Rebels getting the lead and fired off back-to-back treys to put the Gators up 43-40 with 14:37 on the clock.
From there, Florida manages to hold on to their lead and pull away from Ole Miss with a 7-2 run. With 12:40 on the clock, the Gators were leading 50-43. The Rebels attempted to inch in on Florida’s lead once more, but only could get within three before Chris Chiozza stepped in and fired off a three-point basket. Florida now had a six-point lead with 9:54 to go.
The Florida Gators played aggressively in hopes of keeping the Ole Miss Rebels away from their lead. However, it turned out they were playing a little too aggressively as they sent Moody to the line four times in two minutes. This allowed the Rebels to get within one point at 67-66 with just 3:01 to go.
Luckily for Florida, just when hopes of Ole Miss recovering started coming about, Stefan Moody fouled out with 1:02 left in the game. The Gators took advantage of this opportunity and KeVaughn Allen fired off a three-ball to extend Florida’s lead to 72-66 with just 46 seconds on the clock.
Refusing to take no for an answer, the Rebels managed to get within three points of the Gators with just 28 seconds on the clock. That is until they fouled Allen, which lead to the Gators lead extending to 74-70 with 22 seconds to go.
Just when the game seemed to be coming to an end, Ole Miss fouled Robinson. He added one more point, putting Florida up by 5. The Rebels took the rebound and came back within three, but Devin Robinson was not having it. With just 5 seconds on the clock he slammed one in with no contest to put the Gators back up by five at 77-72 to end the game.