The Gators took control while never trailing over the final 10 minutes of action, finishing off a 72-70 win over Oklahoma State (7-4) in front of 9,483 at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla.
With the game tied at 51 and 9:58 left to play, senior Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three-pointer to give the Gators (7-3) the lead for the final time. That’s when the game turned into Chris Chiozza’s time to shine. After an Oklahoma State turnover on the following possession, the sophomore point guard hit a three-pointer to push the Gators’ lead to six points.
Chiozza stole the ball on the next possession and hit a short jumper while also being fouled, making the free throw to convert the three-point play and push Florida’s lead to 60-51 with 8:32 remaining. All 11 of Chiozza’s points came in the second half.
“The best looks we’ve had all year,” Florida coach Mike White said about his offense on the postgame radio show. “I thought it was our best offensive performance against a quality, high-major program. If you make a couple more free throws and a couple more open threes, we’d be talking about how well we played offensively.”
There wasn’t one standout player for Florida during the game. Finney-Smith led the Gators with 16 points and nine rebounds. Devin Robinson chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds while KeVaughn Allen and Chiozza had 11 points.
Center John Egbunu came off the bench for the first time this season. Freshman Kevarrius Hayes got the start but played just eight minutes. Egbunu had 10 points, three rebounds an three blocks off the bench but struggled at the free throw line, going 2-9. Florida shot 46.2 percent (12-26) from the free throw line on Saturday night.
“Everyone came into the game, whether it shows in the box score or not, and made positive contributions,” White said.
Kasey Hill came off the bench for the second straight game with Chiozza in the starting lineup. The two point guards played together some throughout the game. Hill had seven points, three rebounds, eight assists and just one turnover.
Florida forced 14 turnovers and scored 21 points off them.
The Gators return to action on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they host Jacksonville.