Florida knocked off 16th-ranked Mississippi State 69-57, improving its home winning streak to 17 games.
It was a balanced scoring attack for the Gators. Brad Beal led all scorers with 19 points, Erik Murphy chipped in 14 points, Erving Walker finished with 10 points and four assists, and Patric Young put up 12 points and six rebounds off the bench.
The most impressive thing about this win was the Gators having to adapt to a style of play they’re not entirely comfortable with. Mississippi State was running its half-court offense and using a lot of clock, then feeding Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney late in the shot clock. That allowed the Bulldogs to hang around and keep Florida out of its transition offense.
It was a close game until the second half when Florida really tightened up on defense. Will Yeguete, Young and even Mike Rosario all drew charges, getting the team fired up and the crowd into it. (By the way, it was probably the best crowd so far this season.)
Moultrie was far less effective guarding Young in the second half. Young struggled on offense early, as Moultrie made things difficult inside. No worries, though. Young’s patience paid off, and in the second half he exploded for dunk after dunk. You know, the I-hope-there-weren’t-any-kids-in-the-front-row-because-that-dunk-was-violent type of dunks.
Moutrie fouled out with 2:04 left in the game, and at that point the Bulldogs had no chance at making a comeback.
The Gators didn’t get the offensive production from Walker and Kenny Boynton that they’re used to seeing, but the two guards combined for nine assists and only one turnover. Mississippi State out-rebounded Florida 30-25, but with Florida playing near mistake-free basketball with only five turnovers, it really didn’t matter.