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Florida 81, Seton Hall 76: Gators survive Pirates, barbarous referees

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In a game marred by a million whistles, Florida had enough to win once again.

NCAA Basketball: Advocare Invitational-Florida vs Seton Hall Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida (TWEET) got (TWEET) 21 points (TWEET) from KeVaughn Allen (TWEET) and 20 off the (TWEET) bench (TWEET) from Canyon Barry (TWEET), and held on late (TWEET) (TWEET) (TWEET) to top Seton Hall (TWEET) in a foul-marred (TWEET) 81-76 win over Seton Hall (TWEET) on Thanksgiving night.

Yes, the refs were that bad: Three Gators — Devin Robinson, Chris Chiozza, and Kasey Hill — fouled out of the game, and none of their disqualifying fouls may have been the correct call. And while Florida was whistled for 25 fouls, Seton Hall was docked for 26 — allowing the Gators to continue their strong free-throw shooting in 2016-17 by making 20 of 27 freebies and stay far enough ahead of the Pirates late to hold on for their fifth win of the young season.

Allen and Barry — who also had six rebounds each — carried the Gators on this night, with Chiozza giving a significant assist with 14 points. John Egbunu’s eight points came slowly, as he failed to find a rhythm inside, but his 10 rebounds were helpful, especially the four offensive ones; Justin Leon had four of those, too, and seven boards total, but his seven-point night was mostly a quiet one. Neither was as bad as Hill, who had a ruinous six-point, five-turnover night, or as absent as Robinson, who had three more fouls than shots.

But Florida has to have nights like this from Allen and/or Barry because its roster is stocked with players like Hill and Kevarrius Hayes — official line: one block, one steal — who contribute defensively and almost subtract offensively. The best defensive lineup the Gators have will struggle to score; the best offensive one might hemorrhage points.

The trick for Mike White — who has a team good enough to be dreaming of the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, one that just beat another team that could fantasize about the same, one that could give the Gonzaga outfit it will play on Friday night a loss — is figuring out how to mix and match those parts to make them more than they all are individually.

It will be an ongoing challenge this season, I suspsect. But through five games, he’s gotten the Gators five wins — and so I think he might be up to the task.