The grind of the SEC schedule is in full swing. That grind is off to a great start for the Florida Gators in a year where the conference might be as deep as ever. As many as 8 teams are projected to make the NCAA tournament from the conference. Wednesday night the Gators welcomed in the 13-2 Mississippi State Bulldogs. MSU left with a 3 in the loss column. Egor Koulechov led the way for UF in the 1st half by scoring his team’s 1st 13 points and Chris Chiozza was the catalyst as the Gators pulled away in the 2nd half. Florida led by only 5 at the half, but the Bulldogs went ice cold in the 2nd and the Gators pulled away for the 71-54 victory. That victory improved UF’s conference record to a perfect 4-0 and their overall record to 12-4.
The story for the Gators in the 1st half was Koulechov. The guard scored the 1st 13 points for his team and gave them their 1st lead at 13-12. An 8-0 run just past the halfway mark of the half jumped the home team out to their biggest lead of the game at 27-17. Mississippi State chipped away at that lead and was able to cut it to 5 points before entering the locker room. Florida led 33-28 at the half thanks to 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from Koulechov. Koulechov’s big half was needed. Senior guard, Chris Chiozza, had his minutes limited as he battled strep throat.
Chiozza looked like the illness was bothering him less early in the 2nd half. After not making a field goal in the 1st half, he got on the board by making back-to-back 3-pointers. Koulechov didn’t have the same success. After scoring the 1st 13 for the Gators in the 1st half, he could only manage 1 point in the opening 10 minutes of the half. Mississippi State couldn’t take advantage of Koulechov’s struggles. The Bulldogs had a stretch where they missed 8 straight shots and allowed Florida to stretch their lead to 14 with less than 10 minutes to go. The Bulldogs’ best player, Quinndary Weatherspoon, ended that stretch of over 6-minutes without a field goal, but Florida stormed right back. Koulechov went on his own 5-0 run thanks to assists from Chiozza and immediately halted any momentum for the road team. The Gators ended up winning the game, 71-54. Koulechov finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Chiozza added 10 points and 7 assists.
The Gators will head out on the road for an SEC showdown on Saturday. Florida will head to Mississippi to face Ole Miss. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 pm. You will hear all the action starting with a pregame show at 12:25 right here on 620 WDAE.
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