Missouri looks to reverse fortunes against Florida

NCAA

Missouri and Florida are trending in opposite directions with a week to go before the Southeastern Conference tournament.

The Tigers (14-7 overall, 7-7 SEC) dropped out of the Top 25 this week after being held to a season-low 53 points in a loss at home to Ole Miss.

It was Missouri’s fourth loss in the past five games, all against unranked opponents. The Tigers face another unranked team when they visit the surging Gators on Wednesday night in Gainesville, Fla.

Florida (13-6, 9-5) has won three in a row and is coming off a 71-67 road victory against Kentucky on Saturday.

The Gators, who are 7-2 since Jan. 19, reside in third place in the conference behind Alabama and Arkansas.

Tre Mann continues to be the catalyst for the Gators’ success over the past six weeks, and he delivered another clutch performance by scoring 14 of 21 points in the second half against Kentucky. Mann, who averages team-best totals in points (14.7), rebounds (5.8) and assists (3.4), made two free throws with 10 seconds left to help Florida earn its first series split against the Wildcats since 1998.

“There were probably two or three times where he could have been a little bit more aggressive, but he’s making good decisions,” Gators coach Mike White said. “He played at such a good tempo. He’s got such a great pace to his game that I also don’t want to speed him up either. Obviously, the baseline shot opposite our bench late was a huge shot. And then for him to get to the foul line and convert the way he did.”

Xavier Pinson (14.0 points per game) and Dru Smith (13.9) lead the Tigers in scoring this season. Neither player, however, could muster much offense against the Rebels, with Pinson held to a season-low two points and Smith scoring only nine.

Kobe Brown led the Tigers with 12 points while Jeremiah Tilmon had 10 points and 10 rebounds. But Missouri couldn’t follow up on a 15-2 second-half run that gave it a brief lead with 9:25 left.

“I think more than anything, it was getting stops,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. “It was a four-point swing, and then it kind of went from there. But of course, it’d be getting stops, then making baskets.”

–Field Level Media

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