(For those of you who still care about this, the first two paragraphs are for you.)
Chomp on this, Mizzou.
Five months after a stadium wide mocking of the Gator Chomp epitomized a 36-17 Missouri rout over Florida on the gridiron, it looks like the Gators got the last laugh of the 2013-14 academic year- by pounding the Tigers in basketball (thus securing the season sweep) and all but ensuring they won’t be going dancing.
Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin each scored 15, Dorian Finney-Smith pulled down 9 rebounds and the Gators shut down Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson, arguably the best guard tandem in the SEC, in a 72-49 drubbing of the Tigers. In doing so, they dealt Missouri’s NCAA Tournament hopes a devastating blow in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. It wasn’t necessarily a knockout punch, (not with a 22-11 record and a win over UCLA) but it did ensure a long weekend of sweating for Missouri’s players and coaches.
Early on, though, it was Florida who was sweating.
The Gators went 3-14 from three point land, turned it over seven times and went 5-11 from the free throw line in the first half. That was compounded by Missouri showing up to play, and some rock solid defense by the Tigers kept Florida from getting good shots, and thus, scoring.
Unfortunately for Missouri, the Gators wouldn’t continue to self destruct in the same manner in the second half.
A 7-0 run right out of the gates gave the Gators a lead they would not relinquish, and then came the 23-4 run that knocked the Tigers out of the game. First, Kasey Hill found Will Yeguette for an easy layup. Then Wilbekin hit a three right after forcing a steal. After Young hit a jumper and Casey Prather made two free throws, Wilbekin hit another three to put Florida up 50-36. Missouri could only trade buckets at that point, and kept the deficit at 14 for another few minutes. But when Michael Frazier hit back to back threes, the game was over, and Billy Donovan cleared his bench.
Overall, I liked what I saw. I didn’t expect Missouri to bumble and stumble their way around the court like they did against Texas A&M; I expected them to give Florida a fight, and they did. But just like Florida has done so many times this year, they responded well to the fight, and hit some big shots when they needed to most.
The identity of this team is may not be what I would choose if I got to take my pick. They’re a scrappy team though, one that never goes down without a fight. And they’re sure to get another one tomorrow from a tough Tennessee team that’s playing its best ball lately, and one that our Neil Blackmon picked to beat Florida in the semifinals.
Can they fight it off as well as they fought off Missouri’s fight today?