GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — KeVaughn Allen scored 17 points, Keyontae Johnson added 13 and Florida overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to beat Missouri 64-60 on Saturday.
The Gators won their fourth consecutive game — the team’s longest streak of the season — and continued to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume down the stretch.
Coming off consecutive road wins at Alabama and No. 13 LSU, Florida (16-11, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) looked nothing like the same team in the first half. Coach Mike White’s guys shot 30 percent in the opening 20 minutes, had just two assists and trailed by nine.
The Gators found themselves in an even bigger hole when Jordan Geist’s 3-pointer made it 40-28 early in the second half.
But Florida started driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. The Gators made 25 of 30 from the stripe for the game, including 16 of 19 in the second half.
Allen made 9 of 10, including two with 5.5 seconds remaining that essentially sealed the victory.
Jalen Hudson chipped in 11 off the bench for the Gators. It was fourth time in the last five games that Hudson reached double figures, a positive step forward after a rough start to the season.
Geist led the Tigers (12-14, 3-11) with 16 points. Javon Pickett added 15.
Xavier Pinson and Jeremiah Tilmon both fouled out down the stretch, leaving Mizzou with two bench players on the floor.
Missouri: The Tigers fell to 0-4 in Gainesville and have lost six of seven on the road in SEC play, not really that surprising considering they’ve played all season without highly talented forward Jontay Porter.
Florida: The Gators continues to build a case for making the NCAA Tournament, which looked like a pipe dream a month ago. Hudson has been a big reason for the late-season surge.
Florida recognized its 1993-94 team at halftime. Those Gators became the first in program history to reach the Final Four and gave the football-first school a taste of basketball success. Lon Kruger was the coach, and Craig Brown, Dan Cross, Andrew DeClercq and Dametri Hill were the stars. Brown, Cross, DeClercq and Hill were among those in attendance for the halftime salute.
Florida forward Isaiah Stokes played about three minutes in the second half without his right shoe. He even altered a shot during the stretch. Coach Mike White didn’t want to burn a timeout in a tight game, so Stokes kept going in a slippery sock.
Missouri: Plays at Mississippi State on Tuesday and will try to avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season.
Florida: Plays at Vanderbilt on Wednesday night, another must-win game for the Gators and their NCAA Tournament hopes.
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