Dan Werner's double-double – 16 points and 10 rebounds – wasn't enough to lead the Gators to their third straight SEC win. Instead, the Gators (15-3, 2-1 SEC) dropped their first conference game of the season.
Florida started the night red-hot from the outside, making three of their first four from behind the arc. They jumped out to an early 11-4 lead in the first three minutes, but then the shooting woes began. No. 15 ranked Ole Miss (15-1, 2-1 SEC) outscored Florida 19-1 over a six-minute stretch, taking at 23-12 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half. The Rebels never trailed again.
Florida did come back on several occasions. They cut the lead to nine points, 35-26, at the six-minute mark when Jonathan Mitchell knocked down a 3-pointer ending an 0-for-5 stretch from behind the arc. Werner scored seven points during the comeback. But Ole Miss rattled off three straight baskets, stretching the lead back to 13 points.
Florida scored three straight baskets of their own to close the first half, narrowing the Rebel lead to nine, 43-34, at the break. The Gators finished the first half shooting 40 percent, including a woeful 4-of-16 from behind the arc. They did manage to outrebounded Ole Miss 19-14 in the first half, but the Rebels knocked down 59 percent of their first half shots.
Nick Calathes and Walter Hodge had back-to-back baskets to start the second half, cutting Ole Miss's lead to seven points, but the Rebels answered every Gator basket and extended the lead to 16 points with 12:40 remaining in the game, 59-43.
The Gators scored nine straight behind a pair of 3-pointers by Chandler Parsons and another bucket from the freshman. They cut the lead to just five points midway through the second half, 59-54.
Ole Miss answered the Gator charge again and took an 11-point lead after a pair of free throws by Trevor Gaskins who finished with 19 points. Florida cut the lead again to five points, 77-72, but the inside play of Ole Miss center Dwayne Curtis proved to be too much for the Gators. The senior finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Hodge, Parsons and Calathes all knocked down 3s to keep it close in the final minutes, but the Rebels made six straight free throws down the stretch to keep their distance from the Gators.
Calathes finished with 16 points, but made just 6-of-15 shots from the floor and took an ill-advised 3-point shot in the final minutes. Parsons finished with 15 points on 2-of-3 shooting from behind the arc, and Hodge dropped 13 points. Mitchell also scored nine points coming off the bench.
Former Gator David Huertas finished with seven points.
The Gators return home on Saturday night when they host Kentucky at the O'Connell Center at 9 p.m.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski
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