There was quite a bit of congruence between the weather outside the Hump and the game inside it. Messy, sloppy, ugly, or whatever synonym you’re thinking of. But the Gators were more than happy to make it even uglier than it had to be- and wound up walking out of the Magnolia State with another win.
Casey Prather scored his usual 16, Patric Young chipped in 12, and Michael Frazier hit a trio of clutch three pointers late in the second half to bury the Bulldogs, 62-51. With the win, the Gators further distanced themselves from the rest of the pack in the SEC, thanks in part to Tennessee pasting Mississippi and Kentucky falling on the road at LSU. That gives Florida a two game lead in the SEC with 11 games to go, and now the Gators have three straight home games before they go on the road again, diminishing their chances of slipping up in the immediate future.
But back to the game last night. Yeah, it was pretty ugly, but ugly may be turning out to be the new beautiful for Florida fans. Because last time I checked, a win is a win, and last night, the Gators got another one, this time over a pesky Mississippi State team that could have really used a victory to boost their NCAA Tournament hopes. Now, MSU has just one remaining shot to impress the Selection Committee, and that’s against Kentucky (a team that’s watching its seeding drop by the week), which puts a lot of pressure on the Bulldogs in that one game. Make no mistake, MSU was desperate last night, and Florida wasn’t, yet Florida got the win- a testament to how good this team is.
That’s why I was so irritated about Jimmy Dykes and Bob Knight complaining about Florida’s effort last night, and saying the Gators didn’t look like they wanted to win. I don’t think that was the case at all; Miss. State is a team well above .500, and with an outside shot at a spot in the Big Dance, but a win last night could have put them on the other side of that bubble. It’s not that Mississippi State wanted the win more than Florida; they simply needed it more, and I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that, because of the Gators’ sterling resume (wins over Kansas, Memphis, no bad losses). Plus, Florida handily won all the effort stats: rebounds, steals and blocks (including three from Patric Young, doing his best Jarvis Varnado impression), so there’s really no point in whining about how Florida doesn’t really care to be there, and they’re just going through the motions.
These guys are the supposed experts, so they’re supposed to know better than that, (unless they’re just doing the typical TV shtick of “whine about something, ANYTHING, to attract attention”). Because otherwise, there was really no reason to say stuff like that. Sure it was pretty sloppy, but that’s just one of the main components of Gator basketball, the other one being, you know, winning.
And who’s going to complain about that end result come March Madness?