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Florida 81, Baylor 60: Gators burn bright in SEC-Big 12 Challenge

The Gators almost couldn’t miss.

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

The Florida Gators fell to one member of the 2017 East Regional on Wednesday.

On Saturday, against another one, the Gators made sure to rise.

Florida drained 14 of 25 threes and built a lead that was never meaningfully challenged in their third SEC-Big 12 Challenge victory under Mike White, an 81-60 rout of Baylor.

Chris Chiozza — as usual — led the Gators, pouring in 20 points to lead all scorers and recording six assists and six rebounds. At one point in the first half, Chiozza scored 13 straight points for the Gators, nine of them on threes, and helped to push the Gators out to a 15-point lead.

But he had plenty of help on this day, with Egor Koulechov scoring nine of the Gators’ first 14 points in the first four minutes of play en route to a 16-point outing, Jalen Hudson chipping in 17 points off the bench, and the frontcourt combination of Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributing 12 points on eight shots. And while Florida got only a quiet performance from KeVaughn Allen (10 points), that still included a spectacular step-back three to beat the buzzer at the end of the first half.

The Gators did a fine job of stymieing the Bears, too. Florida held Manu Lecomte to 10 points, well off his season average of nearly 17, and limited backcourt partner King McClure to one point on five shots. And just days after being barraged from deep by South Carolina, Florida held Baylor to 3-for-15 shooting from beyond the arc.

This win, Florida’s third by double figures in SEC-Big 12 Challenge play under Mike White, doesn’t do that much for the Gators, given that Baylor is not currently in line to make the NCAA Tournament.

But after the way this team failed to deal with success against South Carolina, this was a resounding response to adversity.