Florida hangs on to top Rebels again
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Devin Robinson’s emphatic dunk in the closing seconds brought Florida fans to their feet — for good.
It was a well-deserved standing ovation.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, Robinson added 15 off the bench and the Gators bounced back from their worst loss of the season and beat Mississippi 77-72 Tuesday night.
Florida (16-8, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) swept both games against the Rebels (15-9, 5-6) this season while improving to 12-1 at home.
The latest one was a nail-biter until the final minute.
Florida’s Kasey Hill hit a circus shot with 1:19 remaining and KeVaughn Allen followed with a deep 3-pointer from the wing that put the game out of reach. Hill drove to the basket, got fouled and threw up a prayer that fell through the rim.
“What a big play that was,” coach Mike White said. “Happy for Kasey. That was a huge play. We were searching versus their zone. … We were just stifled, just searching, and Kasey steps up and made an unbelievable play.”
Robinson’s play down the stretch may have been equally important for Florida. He scored 11 points in the second half and took three charges, including one that fouled out Ole Miss star Stefan Moody with 1:09 to play.
“I knew he had four fouls and it would make the game a lot easier if he wasn’t in the game because he’s a big threat on offense, so I just stepped up and took it in the chest,” Robinson said.
Robinson added five rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal. The Gators were plus-18 with him on the floor.
“Devin Robinson was terrific,” White said. “I thought it was the best game of his Gator career. He was really good, best day that Devin’s had while I’ve coached him for sure. … He was really efficient, made good decisions and drew three big charges. He used his length defensively. … I thought he just played with energy. He was flying all over the court. I was really proud of his effort.”
The Rebels trailed by 10 in the second half, but closed to 67-66 after Moody made eight consecutive points. Moody had a chance to tie the game, but missed a free throw. He fouled out a couple minutes later.
Moody finished with 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Tomasz Gielo led the Rebels with 20 points.
“It’s nice that I put up those stats today, but at the end of the day, I would take a win with two points,” Gielo said. “It was a tough game.”
Finney-Smith was Florida’s main man once again. He had plenty of help, though.
Allen finished with 15 points, and John Egbunu (14) and Hill (10) also scored in double figures. Egbunu chipped in 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double.
“It was a big game,” Robinson said. “We dropped an egg last game to Kentucky and we just needed to get back on that roll that we had. Great win to get.”
Ole Miss: Led 40-37 early in the second half. … Had won three of the last five meetings in the series. … Coach Andy Kennedy still needs one victory to tie Rick Stansbury for the fourth-most wins by an SEC coach in his first 10 years.
Florida: White improved to 2-0 against his alma mater. … Extended 3-point streak to 820 consecutive games.
Ole Miss seemed to get a boost with the return of forward Sebastian Saiz, who missed the last six games following eye surgery. Saiz played with dark, protective glasses, and had four points and five rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench in the first half. But he did little after the break.
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