Maybe the most pleasing aspect of the way Florida has come together to win its last nine games and elbow its way into high NCAA seeding discussions is that it seems it’s never the same player taking charge and leading on consecutive nights.
Tuesday night in the 12th-ranked Gators’ (23-5, 13-2 SEC) win over South Carolina (20-8, 10-5 SEC), the man of the hour was KeVaughn Allen, who scored 26 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, handed out 4 assists and added 2 steals and a blocked shot on the defensive end. Defensively, the Gators held South Carolina to 3-14 from the 3-point line.
In the win over Mississippi State back on Saturday, it was Chris Chiozza on the offensive end and Kevarrius Hayes on the defensive end. Florida held the Bulldogs to 2-23 from the 3-point line.
When UF smoked Auburn, Canyon Barry was good for 30 points and Kasey Hill delivered 12 assists. Five other Gators scored in double figures.
Justin Leon came through with 18 points including 11 in the second half to lead the win over Texas A&M. Florida’s defense held the Aggies to 22.2% (4-18) from the 3-point line.
Barry and Chiozza scored 9 of Florida’s last 11 points to seal the win over Georgia. Georgia shot only 33.3% and Florida forced 16 turnovers, turning them into 18 points.
Hill scored a career high 21 points against Kentucky while the Gators pounded the taller Wildcats 54-29 on the boards with Devin Robinson and Chiozza each grabbing 9.
Chiozza had a triple double (12 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists), just the fourth in school history, to lead the win over Missouri. Florida’s defense limited Missouri to 30.2% shooting from the field and converted 13 Mizzou turnovers into 20 points.
Hayes had a career high 20 points and the UF defense held Oklahoma to 1-16 from the 3-point line.
With Barry (sprained ankle) out against LSU, Devin Robinson scored 24 points and yanked down 8 rebounds while freshman Eric Hester hit all 5 of his 3-point shots. The UF defense held LSU to 2-17 from the 3-point line.
In the 9-0 run, the Gators have averaged winning by 19.8 points and have held opponents to 38-166 shooting from the 3-point line. You win a lot of games when you hold opponents to a miserable 22.9% from the 3-point line.
Allen is the closest thing the Gators have to a legitimate star but he will be fortunate to make second team All-SEC. The fact that the team is practically devoid of stars doesn’t seem to faze the Gators in the least. They really don’t care who scores the points or who pads the stats on a particular night as long as Florida comes up with the win. When you talk to them after a game, nobody seems to want to talk about offense but they all smile and have theories, opinions and praise for each other when it comes to defense.
Defensively, this team plays at a truly elite level. They’re capable of compensating for the loss of John Egbunu because they are so quick and forceful on the perimeter. Having Egbunu would certainly be a plus as UF tries to close out its season with three wins that will earn an SEC title, but the Gators are perfectly capable of winning without him.
This is a really good basketball team.
OTHER FLORIDA SPORTS NEWS
Jacksonville rallied to take a 3-2 win over the Florida baseball team to hand the Gators their first loss in a midweek game since April 14, 2015 at Florida State. The Gators return to McKethan Stadium tonight to face JU again … The women’s golf team finished second in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Tournament. Kelly Grassel led the Gators with a -1 finish over the three days of the tournament. The Gators figure to climb in the rankings when the new poll comes out today. Currently, they are ranked 6th by Golfweek.com … The Florida men’s golf team is ranked 4th … The loss to Maryland over the weekend cost the Gators the top spot in the softball rankings. Florida State took over at #1 and Auburn remained at #2 while UF dropped to #3 … Florida remains #1 in women’s tennis while the men’s team is currently ranked #6.
SEC FOOTBALL/SPORTS NEWS
Alabama: Excuse Paul Finebaum – and a whole lot of other folks – for being a bit underwhelmed with Nick Saban’s choice for offensive coordinator, Brian Dabol. “I’m going to be cautious before I get too excited about this hire,” Finebaum said on WJOX Morning Drive show Tuesday. “Because, to me, I know he’s been a coordinator 3 times in the NFL, but I also know he’s been with 3 horrible teams and his offense has been rated rather poorly.” Finebaum went on to say he thinks Saban is settling for a coordinator like Dabol because “he’s tired of running a kindergarten class in his coaching offices.”
Arkansas: Arkansas will pay Coastal Carolina $1.5 million to be the week 10 sacrificial lamb in 2017. In 2019 they’ll pay San Jose State $1.5 million to play either in Fayetteville or Little Rock.
Auburn: Former Auburn HBC Tommy Tuberville is considering a run for governor in the state of Alabama in 2018. Some polls are being run by the Alabama Republican Party that will determine within the next 2-3 weeks whether or not Tuberville will decide to run.
Georgia: Defensive tackle Solomon Kindley, who played one snap as a true freshman in 2016, has been granted a medical redshirt.
Kentucky: Stephen Johnson earned the starting QB job with the way he finished the 2016 season after Drew Barker went down with a back injury. With spring football about to begin, the Wildcats have six quarterbacks including Barker who will be trying to earn the backup job. If you’re one who’s been known to wager, put some money on Barker electing to transfer if he has a decent spring.
LSU: Considering how quickly he pulled the trigger to fire football coach Les Miles, it’s really curious that Joe Alleva hasn’t canned basketball coach Johnny Jones yet. It’s never been a case of talent – or lack of – for Jones. LSU is always loaded, but Jones has yet to prove he can coach a lick.
Mississippi State: Basketball coach Ben Howland has dismissed any suggestion that he will be on the short list to replace Mark Gottfried at North Carolina State.
Missouri: Missouri has gotten seven private donations of a million dollars or more and has now raised more than $46 million overall of the $96.7 million it will take to renovate the south end zone.
Ole Miss: Tray Scott, who was hired in the offseason only to leave for Georgia a few weeks later, has been replaced as D-line coach at Ole Miss by former Alabama All-SEC linebacker Freddie Roach. Roach was working as Alabama’s director of player development.
South Carolina: Quarterback Connor Mitch, who transferred out of South Carolina for what he presumed were greener pastures at James Madison, has left the D1AA program.
Tennessee: With the NFL Combine looming in a couple of weeks, former Vol running back Alvin Kamara’s draft stock is on the rise. Some mock drafts have already moved him into the first round.
Texas A&M: Former Heisman Trophy QB Johnny Manziel has been seen working out with former TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, a backup to Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks.
Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt added a 2017 recruit, 6-4, 320-pound juco offensive guard Saige Young.
Jamie Luckie was one of the zebras at the O-Dome for the Florida-South Carolina game. I’m not going to sugar coat it. He’s a horrible official and has no business whatsoever calling a pickup game at the YMCA much less a game in Division I. I try not to rip officials too much because they have a tough and largely unappreciated job, but I’ve been watching Luckie call games for years and as much as I dislike him, I can’t think of a single coach I’ve ever talked to who had something good to say about him.
In Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft, North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky will go #2 to the San Francisco 49ers. I think Trubisky is a fine talent but I wouldn’t draft a QB who only started one year in college with the second pick. If I’m drafting a quarterback I’m going with Deshaun Watson all the way.
The Chicago Bears are doing their best to trade Jay Cutler. If I’m an owner I would fire my GM if he made a trade for Cutler.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Has the recent 9-0 run convinced you the Gators should be mentioned among the nation’s elite teams or are you still not sold that they’re an elite team?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
From 1969-76 Grand Funk Railroad was one of the best concert bands in the rock and roll business. They turned out eight consecutive top 10 albums (seven studio and one live) from 1970-75 including “We’re an American Band” that reached #2. They also hit #1 on the singles chart with “We’re an American Band” and their remake of “The Loco-Motion.” Today’s music is a live concert from 1974 in Los Angeles.