Gator win streak ends at Ole Miss

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Mississippi's Dominik Olejniczak shoots against Florida's Gorjak Gok during Saturday's game at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle via AP)

OXFORD, Miss. — The feel-good, 4-0 SEC start is over.

Florida simply didn’t show enough fight in a 78-72 loss at Ole Miss that was punctuated by foul trouble, defensive lapses and missed opportunities to score at the rim. Before 6,457 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels played inspired while Florida looked tired.

“Both teams battled,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Ole Miss a little bit harder. I thought they played with great edge and great character and physicality. They won a majority of 50-50 balls, in my opinion, down the stretch in the second half. They wanted it a little bit more.”

The X-factor in the game was Ole Miss junior center Bruce Stevens, a JUCO transfer who single-handedly got UF’s frontline in foul trouble on the way to a career-high 22 points. After Florida cut Ole Miss’s lead to 72-70 on a pair of Jalen Hudson free throws with 1:46 left, Ole Miss went back inside to the 6-foot-8, 252-pound Stevens, who muscled a shot over Florida center Kevarrius Hayes to put Ole Miss back ahead 74-70 with 1:28 remaining.

When normally reliable senior point guard Chris Chiozza then short-armed a layup with 1:06 left, the Gators were in desperate straits. Chiozza redeemed himself with a quick steal on a press on an in-bounds play, but redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone turned the ball back over on a drive attempt to the basket, allowing the Rebels to retain possession.

Any last chance of a comeback was thwarted when, with Ole Miss up 75-70 and 49 seconds, the Gators failed to block out on a second missed free throw by Breein Tyree. In a juggling fight for the loose ball, Ole Miss junior guard Terrence Davis came up with it. The Gators were forced to foul Tyree again, with Hudson fouling out on the play. Tyree made both free throws to put Ole Miss up 77-70.

Stone scored a career-high 23 points for the Gators (12-5, 4-1 SEC) before fouling out with 6.1 seconds left. Florida had its modest six-game win streak come to an end. Already short-handed with freshman guard Deaundrae Ballard out for the second straight game with an illness, Florida suffered another blow to its depth when sophomore center Gorjok Gak suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return.

“We know we have to be tougher, scrappier,” Stone said. “We know we’re not going to get that many calls on the road. We just have to learn, calls aren’t going to go our way, some dudes are going to get injured, we’ve just got to play through it.”

Chiozza, overcoming his own bout with strep throat, logged 37 minutes, finishing with seven points, six rebounds and four assists to end a string of eight straight games scoring in double figures. Senior guard Egor Koulechov had 11 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes to post his third double-double of the season and first since Nov. 19 against New Hampshire, while Hudson had 11 points off the bench.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome a porous second-half defensive effort, which has become a familiar theme for this Gator squad. After limiting Ole Miss to 30.3 percent shooting in the first half, Florida allowed the Rebels to shoot 60 percent from the floor and score 47 points in the second half.

Ole Miss (10-7, 3-2 SEC) quickly wiped out a 52-44 Florida lead with 12:42 left, on back-to-back 3-pointers by Markel Crawford and Deandre Burnett and an inside layup by Marcanvis Hymon that tied that score at 52. Three trips down the floor. Three straight baskets.

“The crowd got back into it,” Stone said. “That got into our head and we sped up, made a couple of costly turnovers.”

Burnett added 20 points for Ole Miss, while Crawford, a grad transfer from Memphis, had 17 points.

“When they’ve got it going offensively they are as hard to guard as anybody in our league,” White said.

Florida didn’t offer enough resistance. White said he chose not to double Stevens in the post, given how dangerous Ole Miss was entering the game on the perimeter. Hayes played just four minutes in the first half after picking up a pair of fouls and had just four points, a rebound and a blocked shot in 15 foul-plagued minutes. As a result, Ole Miss outscored the Gators in the paint 32-22.

“We just couldn’t stop them and didn’t pay enough attention to the scouting report, knowing what they were trying to do,” Koulechov said. “Couldn’t string together a few stops when we needed them.”

Both teams played through a first half that included six ties and seven lead changes, the Gators went up 16-10 on a transition layup from freshman guard Mike Okauru, but couldn’t pull away early. Ole Miss came back to tie the score at 25 on an inside basket from Stevens, then went up 31-28 on a jumper from Crawford with 52 seconds left. But Florida junior guard KeVaughn Allen made a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer, tying the score at 31 at halftime.

Florida shot 37.7 percent from the field and 34.5 percent (10-29) from 3-point range. There were some key shots missed close to the basket late, including Chiozza’s missed layup and Stone being chased down from behind and blocked by Davis with 3:42 left.

“We’ve got to do a better job finishing offensively at the rim,” White said. “I thought we had some opportunities there at the rim, off some offensive rebound putback opportunities, where they made great athletic plays.”

MISSISSIPPI 78, FLORIDA 72

FLORIDA (12-5)

Stone 4-10 13-18 23, Hayes 2-2 0-0 4, Koulechov 4-15 0-0 11, Chiozza 3-10 0-0 7, Allen 2-9 0-0 5, Bassett 0-1 0-0 0, Gak 1-1 0-0 2, Okauru 3-6 1-2 9, Hudson 4-7 2-2 11. Totals 23-61 16-22 72.

MISSISSIPPI (10-7)

Stevens 8-13 5-6 22, Olejniczak 1-2 0-0 2, Tyree 0-6 3-4 3, Burnett 5-8 7-8 20, Crawford 7-12 2-2 17, Hymon 2-3 2-2 6, Furmanavicius 0-0 0-0 0, T.Davis 2-11 3-4 8, Shuler 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 22-26 78.

Halftime_31-31. 3-Point Goals_Florida 10-29 (Koulechov 3-7, Okauru 2-4, Stone 2-4, Hudson 1-3, Chiozza 1-5, Allen 1-6), Mississippi 6-18 (Burnett 3-4, Crawford 1-2, Stevens 1-3, T.Davis 1-5, Tyree 0-2, Shuler 0-2). Fouled Out_Stone, Hudson. Rebounds_Florida 35 (Koulechov 11), Mississippi 36 (Hymon 9). Assists_Florida 14 (Chiozza 4), Mississippi 17 (Burnett 6). Total Fouls_Florida 20, Mississippi 15.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I just don’t understand this team. the last six games they played pretty good basketball,all of a sudden they revert back to the same old poor shooting team. granted,they had a lot of fouls(home cooking) that went against them,but they had a ton of wide open shots and couldn’t hit the ocean if they fell out of the boat! inside presence,or the lack of,is rearing it’s ugly head again. got to get big John or Stokes back soon! GO GATORS!

  2. Look no further than Coach White not having his team ready to play. They looked like a team that had mailed it in already. No spark to aggressiveness.

      • Obviously YOU dont know sports like he does! When a team isnt ready to play its always the coaches fault and if you spent any real time around team sports like those of us have for 60 years you would know that!

    • Disagree completely. Road wins in college hoops ESPECIALLY are hard to come by. Simply put…they didn’t make shots, calls didn’t go our way, and we got beat up inside.

  3. Can’t really complain about home cookin’ in this game. You shoot 38% from the floor and you don’t win a lot of games. Ole Miss only shot 4 more FTs than the Gators and that was largely because the Rebs shot their FTs better. Coach White has to become a better game manager than he is right now. Plus showing some fire might help.

    • Yes UF should have won game despite very one sided game from the ref.
      I do not know how referee’s can be that one sided the last 10 minutes of the game.
      I do not think they intentionally get one sided, but they were.
      At least 4 times UF player was in perfect def position, Miss player put shoulder into chest, UF fell to the ground.
      That is offensive foul, period. All were shoulder contact to chest of stationary player.
      One time Miss offensive play put shoulder into 3 def UF defenders knocking all 3 to the ground. Still no call.
      Ref called Uf player out of bounds as he was drive for layup. replay shows that UF was at least 6 inches in bounds. The ref was 3 feet away from the call.
      The only calls the gators got (in favor) were replays that ref’s got right when they saw replay.

      I never blame ref for for loses, but it sure seemed like the 5 UF players were playing against 8 the last 10 minutes of the game.

      UF is the better team, I expect a “w” at home.

  4. better yet…why is Allen even playing??? Confidence is completely shot!
    there is certainly someone else on this team who
    would love a chance to play….AND score

  5. I made a comment couple of games ago about Allen not being able to score. I said he should be coming off the bench to spell starters who can score and I got some feedback that he lacks confidence, he’s a team player, etc. He wasn’t chosen pre-season first team all SEC because his confidence will come back or he is a team player, but rather because he was supposed to be a scorer. I am sure he is a good kid, but it was shown again today that when the Gators needed points from someone other than Egor or Husdon, Allen was nowhere to be found. Bench him and let either Hudson start or even try Ballard when he is healthy. Allen needs to earn his way back into the starting line up and more minutes.

  6. The team played fairly good even though hey were not shooting well. The officials were the most bias that I have ever seen? When the gator players came to the basket they were called for offensive fouls and Mississippi walked , charged, etc and never were called? sure seemed that this game was officiated poorly.

    • I try to be unbiased about the refs. Today, I saw 4 calls that went against the Gators that, in my opinion, were errors of judgment or just the ref not wanting the wrath of the homecrowd. I saw 2 fouls on blocked shots that should have been called against the Rebs. I saw an obvious travel that was not called on a layup. I saw an offensive foul (putting your elbow in the defenders stomach and pushing away) that was not called. That said, coaches will always say the game should never be decided by the whistle.
      The season is only half-way. This team definitely needs either Egbunu, or a backup center to get some fire in his belly.

      • Agree with you both on the calls…that comes with the territory thus my earlier statement on road games. At the end of the day Def need some more from the bigs.

      • “coaches will always say the game should never be decided by the whistle.”
        They say that because to say any different will get them fined by the league!

  7. I didn’t see really too many missed or bad calls other than a couple hacks here and there and the phantom step-on-the-line called on Jalen Hudson’s drive to the basket. What lost it today was the lack of the physical presence around the basket that they’ve played the last couple of games with, especially the last 10 min. As a team, they just didn’t play their ‘A’ or even ‘B’ game for 40 minutes today. It’s too bad too, because next week is going to be a tough week with the Razorbacks coming to town and going up to Rupp. Definitely will need all 40 minutes for each game to have a good week.

  8. Corey’s comment about lack of physical presence is spot on. Without that toughness, especially in the paint, the remaining SEC schedule does not look good for the Gators. At times, this team just seems to play without any fire. Chris Chiozza can’t always come up with a miracle game, steal and basket. He’s gonna need some help.

  9. I thought it was poorly officiated. Even so, the Gators should have beaten Ole Miss. Kevin mentioned being fatigued playing their third road game out of four. Given how thin this roster has become it makes sense and might well explain the lack of energy and fire. A handful of guys are playing an extraordinary amount of minutes. With both Hayes and Hudson sitting most of the game due to fouls, along with losing Gak and Ballard’s absence due to injury, there werent many minutes available off the Gator bench. I think our guys wore down and out. They’ll be back when Ballard’s healthy. No one can be confident, however, that Jon Egbunu will be able to be more than a role player off the bench, if and when he comes back at all. Coach White’s got his toughest challenge with this team’s well-being.

  10. I’m going to be a cry baby…those refs sucked the last 10 minutes….many bad calls that kept us from getting the edge, especially the fake out of bounds call on our end (I believe it was Stone), it wasn’t even close, should have been reviewed.

  11. Yes UF should have won game despite very one sided game from the ref.
    I do not know how referee’s can be that one sided the last 10 minutes of the game.
    I do not think they intentionally get one sided, but they were.
    At least 4 times UF player was in perfect def position, Miss player put shoulder into chest, UF fell to the ground. Off foul would take 8 point off board.
    That is offensive foul, period. All were shoulder contact to chest of stationary player.
    One time Miss offensive play put shoulder into 3 def UF defenders knocking all 3 to the ground. Still no call.
    Ref called Uf player out of bounds as he was drive for layup. replay shows that UF was at least 6 inches in bounds. The ref was 3 feet away from the call.
    The only calls the gators got (in favor) were replays that ref’s got right when they saw replay.

    I never blame ref for for loses, but it sure seemed like the 5 UF players were playing against 8 the last 10 minutes of the game.

    UF is the better team, I expect a “w” at home.

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