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Florida 93, Missouri 54: Gators maul Tigers behind Chris Chiozza’s triple-double

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Florida could have looked ahead to Kentucky. It stomped a mudhole in Missouri instead.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The only drama of the Florida Gators men’s basketball team’s 93-54 win over the Missouri Tigers on Thursday night revolved around the smallest man on the floor.

That’s because Florida crushed Missouri so thoroughly that nothing but Chris Chiozza pursuing a triple-double was the only storyline worth following in the second half. The Gators were up by double-digits less than four minutes into the game, and by 15 or more for the final 32 minutes of action.

And it’s also because Chiozza got that triple-double.

Chiozza posted 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists — getting his final three helpers in the final few minutes of play, and his final one on Florida’s last shot of the night — to record the first Gators triple-double since Nick Calathes compiled one against Georgia in 2009.

And the man they call Cheese getting his by leading all players with those 12 rebounds despite being well under the six feet he is listed at makes his triple-double by far the most impressive of Florida’s four this century. Calathes and Corey Brewer both had more than half a foot on the Gators’ diminutive backup point guard — and, of course, they started.

Chiozza had plenty of time to run Mike White’s show on this evening, though, as the Gators’ lead never really ebbed over the course of the game. Canyon Barry led all scorers with 17 points off the bench, KeVaughn Allen had a quiet 15 to lead Florida’s starters, and Kasey Hill had a fine all-around game of his own, with 11 points, five boards, and four assists.

And Missouri lived up to its reputation as one of the worst teams in a major conference, shooting an atrocious 11-for-42 inside the arc and only really finding consistent offense by giving up on running actual offense and jacking threes as the clock ran down. Florida scarfed up 18 offensive rebounds and forced 21 turnovers, outworking the overmatched Tigers all night.

After two consecutive SEC losses, Florida’s now run off three consecutive 30-point wins — albeit against SEC cellar-dwellers LSU and Missouri, and a losing Oklahoma team that is better than its record — ahead of a Saturday night showdown with Kentucky.

There’s no doubt the Gators have found a fantastic form at the moment. The question now becomes: Can it last through that clash?