Key Steal & Hoop By Chiozza Lifts Gators

Five players in double digits plus a key steal & score by Guard Chris Chiozza led the Florida Gators (11-4 3-0 SEC) to a 77-75 road win over the Missouri Tigers (11-4 1-1 SEC), their fifth straight win overall.  The Gators overcame a 10 point second half deficit despite the Tigers getting 28 points & six three pointers from Forward Jordan Barnett.

With the help of a three pointer from Barnett, the Tigers jumped out to 7-2 lead with just over three minutes gone in the game.  Barnett followed his first three pointer  with another one just after the first television timeout, giving the Tigers a 10-4 lead.  After that Barnett three, the Gators got a three of their own from Guard Jalen Hudson to cut the deficit to three.  But after Hudson & Barnett traded three points again, the Tigers pushed their lead up to seven.

The Tigers lead went from seven to 12 after Forward Jontay Porter hit a three of his own & Barnett made a layup.  But trailing by 12 the Gators went on 7-0 run to make the score 24-19.  During the run, the Gators got a layup from Hudson & five points from Guard Egor Koulechov.  

After the final timeout of the first half, the Gators got three pointers from Guard Mike Okauru & Koulechov, the second three pointer making it a tied game at 32.  And in the final two minutes of the first half, the Gators outscored the Tigers 4-3 to take a 36-35 lead at the half.  

Barnett, who hit 3 three pointers in the first half, led all scorers with 15 points.  But the Gators were able to stay in the game & eventually take the lead at the end of the half with the help of 17 bench points.  

At the start of the second half the teams traded baskets but Barnett, with two more three pointers in the first five minutes of the half, was doing most of the Tigers' damage.  And while Barnett was doing damage, Guard Chris Chiooza, who went scoreless in the first half, got on the scoring sheet by hitting a jumper then a three pointer to give the Gators a 51-49 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the game. But Tigers Guard Kassius Robertson hit a long three pointer giving the Tigers the lead back 52-51.  And that three was the start of 10-0 run by the Tigers, that included five points from Barnett.  

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, the Tigers lead reached 10 again after a three pointer from Guard Jordan Geist but again the Gators responded with five points of their own.  And even after having the deficit reaching as high as nine, the Gators, with free throws  from Chiozza & Koulechov, inched closer.  And in the last minute of the regulation, the Gators tied the game at 75 when Hudson hit two of three free throws after he was fouled shooting a three pointer.

Those Hudson free throws set-up the game-winning play when Chiozza, who picked off an errant pass by Geist near the three point line & layed the ball in uncontested with 0.1 seconds left in the game. The layup by Chiozza was two of his 13 points, all scored in the second half.

The Gators will go for their sixth win a row when they host Mississippi State on Wednesday at 7pm.

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