Florida was excellent on both ends of the court, and they demonstrated superior basketball intelligence to Missouri in virtually every phase of the game. As a result of their superior intelligent play, the Gators shot 59% from the field, and held Missouri to just 33% shooting.
“Florida is an outstanding ball club, an experienced (team),” said Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith, following his team’s dismal performance. “We didn’t play very well. Our emotions are not right. We’ve got to do a better job of handling adversity. Within the game, we weren’t able to stay in the present. We let things affect us in a negative way.”
Florida’s 6’2” 176-pound junior guard Scottie Wilbekin posted his first career double-double, with 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting, and 10 assists against 3 turnovers, and he came up with 3 steals, in outplaying Missouri’s Phil Pressey, who finished with 2 points on 1 of 7 shooting, 6 assists against 10 turnovers, and 2 steals.
Florida had four double-digit scorers, including Wilbekin, 6’2” 190-pound senior guard Kenny Boynton, with 14 points, 6’10” 238-pound senior forward/center Erik Murphy, with 15 points, and 6’7” 240-pound junior forward Will Yeguete, who came off the bench to score 13 points and grab 6 rebounds against the Tigers.
On the game, Florida out-rebounded Missouri 35-25, and the Tigers committed 21 turnovers. Florida outscored Missouri 48-14 in the paint, and 34-12 off of turnovers.
“We took some really bad shots,” said Coach Haith. “They sped us up a little bit. And, I thought our defense wasn’t very good. We allowed them to have great rhythm and great pace in their offense. Our ball screen defense was not real good.”
Jabari Brown led Missouri with 16 points, but he shot just 5 of 18 from the field, and he finished with 4 turnovers. Keion Bell attacked the basket, and finished with 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting, but he had just 1 assist against 3 turnovers.
Florida began the game playing excellent defense, and executing flawlessly on the offensive end. The Gators jumped out to a 17-5 lead within the first 5 minutes. Both teams substituted coming out of the timeout, and the action slowed down just a bit. A couple of rounds of substitutions later, and both teams had most of their starters back on the floor. Florida was making another run, and they pushed their lead out to 29-12, with 7:45 remaining in the first half. Missouri was being exposed defensively, and their only efficient offense was coming from Keion Bell, who was able to get to the rim and finish.
By the time the two teams reached a TV timeout with 3:54 remaining in the first half, Phil Pressey had 1 assist and 6 turnovers, and Florida had extended their lead to 35-15.
Late in the first half, Coach Haith had Pressey on the bench for a short blow. Bell turned it over, and a few seconds later, Bell was unable to advance the ball past mid-court against Florida’s full court pressure, and Coach Haith was forced to take a time out to prevent yet another turnover. Then, Jabari Brown found his 3-PT range, and he hit a pair of 3-PT shots late in the half. Coach Haith re-inserted Pressey for a final possession, but he failed to find Brown, who was open on the wing, and he instead settled for a too-deep 3-PT attempt of his own to close out the half. Florida took a 40-23 lead into the locker room.
In the first half, Florida shot 59% from the field, and the Gators held Missouri to just 33% from the field. Florida out-rebounded Missouri 18-11 in the first half, and held a 22-4 advantage over Missouri on points off of turnovers, and a 22-6 edge on points in the paint. It was as dominant, and as impressive a first-half performance as I’ve seen this season. Still, the Gators had turned the ball over 11 times themselves, to Missouri’s 12 first-half turnovers, so they weren’t perfect. As I waited for the second half to begin, and reflected on what I had seen in the first half, the most glaringly obvious difference between Florida and Missouri during that first period had been the advantage in the category of basketball IQ and mental alertness on both ends of the floor that the Gators enjoyed over the Tigers.
Coach Haith opened the second half with Ryan Rosburg instead of Alex Oriakhi. In the first half, Rosburg had done a better job than Oriakhi. Early in the second half, Oriakhi subbed back in, and Young immediately took advantage of Oriakhi on the inside. Pressey was playing with 2 fouls, and he repeatedly failed to stay in front of his man.
Roughly 6 minutes into the second half, Jabari Brown hit a pair of threes on back-to-back possessions to cut Florida’s lead to 54-36. On the next three possessions, Pressey failed to even get Brown a touch. When he finally did pass the ball to Brown, early in the fourth possession, Brown forced up a too quick three.
By the next timeout, Florida led 61-43 with 9:40. The Tigers were playing better. They were taking better care of the basketball, getting better shots, and doing a better job on the defensive end.
But Missouri was unable to cut into Florida’s lead, and the Gators led 65-45 with 7:47 remaining. From there, it got even uglier for Mizzou, as the Gators went on a 13-2 run that culminated with Florida Coach Billy Donovan clearing his bench with 2:31 remaining in the game.