Florida Guards Lead Charge Over Texas A&M

Playing their first game without starting forward Keith Stone, on Tuesday night the Florida Gators overcame a 13 point halftime deficit to beat the Texas A&M Aggies 81-72.  The Gators (11-7 3-3 SEC) outscored the Aggies 48-26 in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Both teams went scoreless until nearly a minute was gone in the game when Gators center Kevarrius Hayes hit a layup.  That basket was the only one until the Aggies got their first basket of the game from guard JayJay Chandler.  

Trailing early 3-2, Florida got the lead back on a three pointer by guard KeVaugh Allen & that shot was the first of four three point shots the home team hit in the first four minutes of the first half.  Because of those baskets behind the three point line, Florida had a 14-11 lead with over 15 minutes left in the first half.  But six points by the Aggies including a three pointer from Mitchell made the score 17-14.  That is until Gators guard Jalen Hudson hit a three pointer of his own to tie the score at 17.

With the score tied at 17, the Aggies scored the next five points including another three pointer by Mitchell but a dunk by Hudson halted that quick run & brought the Gators within three.  That dunk followed by a layup by guard Noah Locke cut the lead to one.  But the Aggies (7-10 1-5 SEC) put together a 9-0 run to make the score 31-21.

Now trailing by 10, Florida cut into the lead quickly with three pointers on back to back possessions from Allen, who led all scorers with 31 points.  The two teams traded baskets until another Mitchell long range shot gave the Aggies a seven point lead again with just under six minutes left in the game.  And the lead jumped to 9 after a jumper by Chandler.  Allen ended the five straight points by the Aggies but another jumper by Chandler made the score 40-31 with just over four minutes left in the 1st half.  

The two teams only totaled one point for a three minute span near the end of the half.  But in the final 90 seconds of the half, the Aggies outscored the Gators 5-2, with Mitchell hitting his fifth three pointer of the half to send the visitors to the locker room with a 46-33 halftime lead.

Because Mitchell scored 17 pts & they hit seven of 11 on three point attempts in the first half, it looked like Texas A&M was on their way to snapping their two game losing streak.  But two minutes into the second half, the Gators got back to back three pointers from Locke cutting the Aggies lead to seven.  

The Aggies lead jumped back to 10 again after Mitchell kept his perfect three point night going when he hit his sixth straight three point shot.  But Locke, who recorded seven three pointers in the game, hit another shot from behind the three point line.  And after a dunk by Aggies forward Christian Mekowulu, the Gators, with four points from Hayes & six points from Allen, went on a 10-0 run to take a 54-53 lead.

Leading by one, the Gators outscored the Aggies 11-6 in the next five minutes of the second half, with Locke scoring eight of those points including two three pointers.  And after a Texas A&M basket, Allen went old-school with a layup plus the free throw to make the score 68-61.

Over the next four minutes, the two teams traded big shots, including three pointers from Allen & Locke plus another one from Mitchell.  But because of the Gators hot shooting from behind the arc, the Aggies were unable to get closer than five points with less than two minutes left in the game.

Florida will look for their third straight win overall on Saturday when they hit the road to take on TCU. Coverage begins on 95.3 WDAE at 11:25am & tip-off will be at 12pm.

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