Florida wins, should rise to No. 1
OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi senior guard Marshall Henderson couldn’t shoot the Rebels all the way to an upset over No. 2 Florida.
Henderson scored all of his team-high 22 points in the first half, but ran out of gas in the second half Florida’s 75-71 win over the Rebels.
Henderson went 0-of-6 from the floor in the second half after going 7 of 14 from the floor in the first half.
“All of his shot are pretty hard,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “He’s always going to have difficult shots because of how teams play him.”
Junior point guard Jarvis Summers added 20 points for the Rebels (16-11, 7-7 SEC). Ole Miss had a chance for two statement victories at home, but fell to Kentucky and Florida this week.
“We had our chances,” Kennedy said. “I just told our team I thought we had a winning effort, but you’ve got to make plays to beat what will be the No. 1 team in the nation.”
Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin finished with 18 points and seven assists to lead Florida.
Sophomore guard Michael Frazier added 17 points for the Gators (25-2, 14-0 in the SEC), who posted their 19th straight win and probably will move up to No. 1 with top-ranked Syracuse losing to Boston College earlier this week.
Florida hasn’t been No. 1 since, 2007, the season it last won a national title.
“Kind of crazy isn’t it,” Florida senior center Patric Young said. “That’s the first time I’ll have experienced being No. 1. It’s not really much of anything because you don’t get a trophy for that. We’ll worry about that at the end of the year.”
Florida broke a 59-59 tie with 5:58 remaining, taking control of the game with a 7-0 run, and never trailed the rest of the way.
With Florida making five of its first seven 3-point shots, the Gators jumped to a 34-24 first half lead.
But, behind Henderson, Ole Miss rallied. Two challenged 3-pointers by Henderson and one by Jarvis Summers sparked a 9-0 run that cut Florida’s lead to 34-33.
Ole Miss climbed to a 36-35 lead on a driving basket by forward Aaron Jones, but Wilbekin answered with a 3-pointer to put Florida back up, 38-36.
Henderson scored the next four points for Ole Miss, including a fall-away baseline jumper that tied the score, 40-40.
A baseline drive by forward Martavious Newby put Ole Miss up, 42-40, but Wilbekin was fouled on a drive and made two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to tie the score, 42-42, at halftime.
But Florida made the necessary adjustments on Henderson in the second half to pull off the win.
“I thought he had similar looks,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “Maybe we stretched him a bit in terms of pushed him a little bit further out than he was in the first half.”
The Gators shot 51.9 percent from the floor, including 50 percent from 3-point range in the first half, while Ole Miss shot 48.3 percent from the field, including 46.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Donovan said he thought Florida’s hot-shooting start helped even-out Henderson’s big first half.
“If you in the first half, instead of making eight (3-pointers), only make three, you’re probably talking about being down by double-digits,” Donovan said.
“So that was kind of a huge factor in the first half, because even though Henderson went crazy in the first half, it was kind of a wash because it was him versus our team in some respects.”
The Gators battled foul trouble throughout the half, with senior center Patric Young, senior forward Will Yeguete and Frazier each picking up two fouls.
NOTES: Florida freshman point guard Kasey Hill sat out his second straight game because of a groin strain. … It was the sixth straight game that the Gators have been either tied to trailing at halftime. Florida last led at halftime Feb. 1 at home against Texas A&M … Marshall Henderson made a 3-pointer in his 60th straight game, tying Pat Bradley for the SEC record.
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