The third ranked Florida Gators won their 14th consecutive game overall and 28th consecutive game at the O’Dome with a 68-58 win over the Missouri Tigers on Tuesday night. Veteran leadership was the difference, as the Gators were led by seniors Scottie Wilbekin (19 points, 13-16 FT) and Patric Young (13 points, 6 rebound). Mizzou disrupted the Gators offensive game plan in the first half, and took a 3 point lead into the break after Jabari Brown (15 points, 3-7 from 3 pt range) made a deep three-pointer at the buzzer. The tides turned in the second half, as Florida outscored the Tigers 43-30 behind the hot shooting of Michael Frazier II. Frazier went 4 of 7 from three point land in the final 20 minutes, clinching the Gators 16th consecutive 20 win season under Billy Donovan.
The big storyline for this game was the much anticipated debut of McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker. Walker served a 12 game suspension by the NCAA as they investigated his amateur eligibility. He rejoined the team on December 14th, but was not eligible to play in games as the NCAA wrapped up their investigation. The Rowdy Reptiles, sporting #FreeChrisWalker shirts, erupted when he entered the game at the 11:28 mark, and the 6’10” forward made his presence felt immediately with 2 blocks and a defensive rebound. Walker scored his first points as a Gator on an alley-oop from his former AAU teammate Kasey Hill, bringing the entire crowd to its feet. “Sky” Walker and Hill connected again on an alley-oop just before the end of the first half.
Mizzou exposed some of Florida’s weaknesses in the first half and it raises the question of whether or not the Gators have the offensive fire power to play against a team with a strong zone defense (see Syracuse). Florida can struggle at times from outside the paint, though the one-two punch of Young and C-Dub down low should create some open looks for the rest of the team. Florida takes on Alabama on Saturday in its third consecutive home game, with a trip to Lexington looming on February 15th.
- Is SkyWalker really the best nickname we can come up with for a guy that has three kisses tattooed on his neck? I cringed every time Brad Nessler used the name. I personally like C-Dub…
- Not to be outdone by Walker’s aforementioned tattoos, I couldn’t help but notice the Mercedes Benz Adam’s Apple tattoo sported by Tony Criswell.
- Did anyone else notice that Billy Donovan’s herpes may be flaring up? It was like a train wreck every time they showed a close up of Billy D—I couldn’t look away from the glaring red spot on his lower left lip. Yikes.
- Ryan Rosburg is well on his way to a friar cut, made popular by T-mobile spokesperson Tim Tebow. He needs to move on from Michelle at Great Clips and invest in a real barber in Columbia.
- There was a hard push by the Florida student section to get Justin Timberlake to come to campus for Senior Day against Kentucky. Most of the usually oversized heads of Pat Young and Billy D were replaced by mug shots of JT. The casual viewer may use this against Florida fans; to that casual viewer—GFY—JT is the man. He can sing, dance, and act. He’s hilarious, and chicks love him. Guys, me included, want to be him. What can be more American than a self-made former Mickey Mouse Club member that has now made it big? #BringJTtoUF