Florida entered its Saturday night matchup with Mississippi rightfully fearful of Rebels scorer Stefan Moody, who led the SEC in scoring coming in. After their first 40 minutes at The Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Gators had an 80-71 win — and it was their star guard who stole the show.
KeVaughn Allen scored 27 points, and needed just 11 shots to do so, outdoing Moody (22 points on 16 shots, along with five turnovers) and helping Florida control the game wire to wire for its first SEC road win.
Florida broke out to a 15-2 lead in the game's first four minutes, and with Moody sideline for a significant portion of the first half with two fouls, the Rebels never quite had enough to meaningfully push back: A 4-0 run got the game back into single digits, but Florida's 9-1 run in response built a lead that wouldn't dwindle under 10 until the last Mississippi basket of the night.
And it wasn't just Allen who scored, and scored efficiently, for the Gators. Dorian Finney-Smith had 17 points on six shots, by virtue of a 9-for-11 night from the line, and also added 11 rebounds. John Egbunu had 10 points on eight shots. And those three more than made up for a combined 3-for-14 night for Chris Chiozza (0-for-4) and Kasey Hill (3-for-10) from the floor, one that still didn't stop Hill from scoring 11 points off the bench or hamper Chiozza enough to prevent his nine assists.
Florida also made 11 of 21 threes on the night, a white-hot shooting percentage due largely to Allen's sizzling 6-for-7 night from distance.
There's really very little not to like about going into a road arena in the SEC — and a brand-new one with newly excited fans on a Saturday night, at that — and controlling a game from tip to triple zeroes. Florida's 16 turnovers — 11 of them on Rebels steals, many of which led to points in transition — are what Mike White will harp on in the next few days, certainly, but his team went to his alma mater and came away with an impressive win.
And if Allen continues to develop at what is now a frightening pace, he could lead Florida to other such triumphs in the coming weeks.
The flight back to Gainesville might be all right tonight.