Allen-led Florida knocks off Ole Miss in OT

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Florida senior guard KeVaughn Allen hits a 3-point basket with 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation Wednesday against Ole Miss to send the game to overtime at Exactech Arena. The Gators beat the Rebels 90-86 in OT. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

In a game that had just about everything, including a pair of gambling coaching decisions on the final play of regulation, Florida’s basketball team rediscovered its clutch gene thanks to the confidence of a senior and the icy coolness of a freshman.

As a result, the Gators got a much-needed 90-86 overtime win over Ole Miss at Exactech Arena Wednesday night.

“They earned it,” said Florida coach Mike White. “Our guys earned that ‘W’. Hopefully we are in a better place.

“I see a lot of smiles in that locker room.”

Certainly, one of them belonged to senior KeVaughn Allen, whose 3-point make with 2.7 seconds to play sent the game into the extra session.

Allen made the shot despite missing his previous six from long range.

Crazy, huh?

“I realized it,” Allen said of going 0-for-6. “But every three I shot felt good. They were just rimming out.”

Here’s where we get into the gambling.

As a crowd of 9,308 watched, Florida got the kind of bad break it has been getting a lot this season when freshman Keyontae Johnson was tied up with 11.5 seconds to play and Ole Miss got the ball because of the possession arrow.

After Johnson fouled Breein Tyree with 8.8 seconds to go on the inbounds play, Tyree hit a pair of free throws to make it 76-73 Mississippi.

During the ensuing timeout, Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis decided not to foul Florida and send the Gators to the free throw line. His team had made 22-of-26 free throws in the game and even two Florida made free throws would have forced UF to foul.

“Normally, 90 percent of the time we foul in that situation, which was almost nine seconds,” Davis said. “We like to keep it six seconds or under. Still bad. We switched it off like we were supposed to and he made a dead-run three.”

Allen came off a screen and hit the shot and Florida defended the inbounds play with an Allen steal to send the game to OT.

“Coach wanted to get a quick two but he changed his mind and decided to go for the three,” Allen said.

And who better to take it than a guy who hadn’t made one all night, yet still shot with the confidence of a sniper.

“He hasn’t always been that confident,” White said. “He wants it more offensively.”

In overtime, freshmen Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard hit big 3s and Allen hit a pair of close-range shots to finish with 21 points. Allen also made one of the biggest plays of the game when he flung his body to the ground to tip a ball headed for the sideline to teammate Kevarrius Hayes with 37 seconds left.

Two Nembhard free throws gave Florida a five-point lead 11 seconds later, but an Allen turnover with 17 seconds allowed Ole Miss to cut the lead to two.

The Gators (12-8, 4-3 in SEC) held on because Locke knocked down a pair of free throws with 11.2 seconds left to clinch it.

“A little bit (nervous),” Locke said. “It was going through my head that I shoot so many free throws and it’s a free shot.”

Locke, who played 42 minutes in the game, finished with a team-high 22 points, as Florida’s three freshmen all contributed mightily.

Johnson finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Nembhard had 12 points, six assists and four steals.

“Individually, that might have been Keyontae’s best game,” White said. “Collectively, it was the best game our freshmen have played.”

Ole Miss (14-6, 4-3) was led by Terence Davis, who had 26 points and 12 rebounds. Tyree had 20 points and KJ Buffen 17.

Florida won despite Ole Miss shooting 56 percent and outrebounding the Gators 41-27. But UF won with offense (gulp) four days after scoring only 50 points in a loss to TCU.

“I thought we took a big step offensively,” White said.

Next up for the Gators is a red-hot Kentucky team that has won seven straight games. The Wildcats are 17-3 overall, 6-1 in the SEC and are ranked seventh in both the AP poll and the NET rankings. The game is at 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

MISSISSIPPI (14-6)

Olejniczak 3-7 0-0 6, Shuler 4-8 1-1 9, T.Davis 8-17 8-10 26, Tyree 6-15 5-6 20, Hinson 1-3 0-0 2, Stevens 3-6 0-1 6, Buffen 4-7 8-8 17, D.Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-63 22-26 86.

FLORIDA (12-8)

K.Johnson 7-11 0-3 15, Hayes 3-5 3-3 9, Locke 7-13 2-2 22, Nembhard 4-5 2-2 12, Allen 6-19 8-8 21, Bassett 1-2 1-1 3, Stokes 1-2 0-0 2, Ballard 0-2 0-0 0, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0, Hudson 2-4 1-3 6. Totals 31-63 17-22 90.

Halftime_Florida 33-30. End Of Regulation_Tied 76. 3-Point Goals_Mississippi 6-23 (Tyree 3-9, T.Davis 2-7, Buffen 1-2, Shuler 0-1, Stevens 0-2, Hinson 0-2), Florida 11-26 (Locke 6-11, Nembhard 2-3, Hudson 1-1, K.Johnson 1-2, Allen 1-7, Ballard 0-2). Fouled Out_K.Johnson, Hinson. Rebounds_Mississippi 37 (T.Davis 12), Florida 27 (Hayes 8). Assists_Mississippi 10 (T.Davis 5), Florida 18 (Nembhard 6). Total Fouls_Mississippi 23, Florida 20.

16 COMMENTS

  1. And that is HOW you win ”close games,” Gators! Great ”TEAM WIN!” From Keyontae Johnson’s 15 points to Noah Locke’s 22 points to KeVaughn Allen’s 21 points and great plays at the end, to even Donaty Bassett contributing and making some good plays on ‘D’. Again, great team win Florida Basketball! Go Gators!

  2. Kudos to Allen…stepped up big time at the right time. Gators pulled this one out of the hat with a little magic tonight, despite too many missed freethrows and misguided passes. They needed that win and found a way to get it and that’s what matters. Kept hope alive!

  3. a little rough on Hayes. Yes he is clumsy but for every awkward play that makes your hand cover your eyes, he makes 5 good plays that just need to be done. He is a die-hard Gator that brings all he has got every night ……unlike some others….and if we had just one more Hayes in the post we would win at least a few more games. Yes, I groan with the rest of you on many Hayes adventures but remember……when Allen makes the great save…….who was there to receive that game saving pass ……Hayes.

  4. Always good to see the Gators STICK IT to an opposing team when one of their players mock our fans with the Gator Chomp and thinking they have it sewn up.

    Next thing you know, Allen for the tying three and into OT where the Gators sent Ole Miss home with a loss. Absolutely story book!

    Suck it Ole Miss! Enjoy that flight home.

    My last basketball desire this season is hoping for UF to go into Knoxville and pull off the huge upset win and have our players doing the Gator Chomp all over their floor at their fans. Probably won’t happen, but you never know, right?

    Great game by Alle, Locke was solid, and Basset needs to play more imo. Also, notice how we attacked the paint more? We needed that to open up better looks on the perimeter. FT needs to get better though as it always seems a sore spot.

    Great game Gators!

    • I agree with you, Todd. It’s always good to win and sweeter when it comes against a team that seems to be mocking the Gators. That’s why my all time favorite regular season win is the ’89 game at Vandy when the fans thought the game was over and threw the tennis balls on the court to mock Schintzius. I give credit to the refs for calling the T, and then Schintzius himself hit the two FT’s to send the game to OT where the Gators won. Speaking of hitting FT’s, it’s interesting, because you’re the second poster to mention needing better FT shooting when the Gators actually went 17-22 from the line. That’s over 77%, which is an excellent team percentage and more than 8 percentage points better than their average. In fact, only Allen and Locke, among the Gators with 20 or more FT attempts, are shooting better than that 77% figure. I suppose the two painful misses by KJ down the stretch are the ones that stick out in our minds to make it seem as if they shot FT’s worse than they actually did.

  5. Joe, you are right about our free throw % last night being much higher than our average this season. It probably seemed less as Ole Miss was shooting them lights out, over 90% I think. What really confuses me is how a guy who has been a reliable outside shooter in his career, Hudson, is not only shooting poorly (being kind here) from the floor, but his free throw % is horrid as well, and it was last year too. That is just a lack of focus.

    • Dan, you’re probably right about Ole Miss making our percentage look less impressive. They shot four more FT’s and were actually at 85%, not quite 90%, but much better than our 77%. Regarding Hudson, I haven’t looked at his Va Tech stats, but he did hit 40% from 3-point range at UF last season. I think his FT% was around 75% last season when he missed the front end of the 1-and-1 late in the loss to Duke. From that point, his FT shooting took a nose dive. I’m not sure whether it’s a lack of focus or if it’s just that he’s not a particularly good shooter. I think it’s possible that his 3-point shooting last season was an anomaly. He has certainly been a scorer in his career, but sometimes players are scorers because they are volume shooters and not necessarily good shooters.