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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center - Gainesville, FL

Florida's defense steps up in win over Ole Miss

2603 days ago
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Canyon Barry spent the last few weeks staying late after practice, knowing it was the only way he was going to get out his shooting slump.

The extra work paid off against Mississippi.

Barry tied a season high with 20 points, KeVaughn Allen added 14 and No. 24 Florida held off the Rebels 70-63 on Tuesday night.

"If he doesn't come off the bench and have the game that he has, we could be sitting here in the other column," Gators coach Mike White said. "He didn't play a perfect game, but he was good. He was probably the MVP for us."

Barry provided a spark off the bench after the Gators missed 12 of their first 15 shots. He helped them build a 20-point lead that Ole Miss only managed to get to single digits twice in the second half.

Deandre Burnett's 3-pointer cut Florida's big lead to 42-34 with 14:18 remaining. The Gators (11-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) responded with an 11-0 spurt that essentially put the game away.

The Rebels made another run, trimming it to 69-63 on Burnett's driving layup with 20.1 seconds remaining. But it was too little, too late -- even with Kasey Hill missing four consecutive free throws and Chris Chiozza clanging another.

"Without saying a word to him, Kasey Hill will shoot 200 to 500 free throws tomorrow," White said.

Devin Robinson added 11 points for Florida, which improved to 2-0 at the recently renovated Exactech Arena. Hill chipped in eight points, six steals, five rebounds, five assists, but he also had five turnovers.

"Kasey Hill was the real issue for us," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.

So were turnovers. Mississippi (9-5, 0-2) finished with 21, the team's most since the season opener against Tennessee-Martin.

"Turnovers have been a nuisance for us really since our exhibition game," Kennedy said. "At times I feel like we're getting over it, and then tonight it rears its ugly head. ... That's just a recipe for disaster, something we've got to improve upon."

The Gators were coming off a big win at Arkansas to open league play, and considering they hadn't handled success very well earlier this season, controlling this game from start to finish was a big step in White's second season.

Barry shooting well surely helped. The graduate transfer from College of Charleston had missed 19 of his last 24 3-point attempts. He made 3 of 6 from behind the arc Tuesday and finished 8 of 14 from the field.

"I hadn't been playing that well but my teammates have had a lot of confidence in me," Barry said. "I've been getting a lot of shots up in the gym. They found me in good positions to score, and I was able to knock them down."


Mississippi: The Rebels have to find a way to limit turnovers. They entered the game with a league-high 196 and then committed 14 in the first 17 minutes of the game, digging a huge hole they never escaped.

Florida: After a few stumbles in the last two months, the Gators have seemingly figured out who they are and what they do well. They're solid on defense, able to press in the open court and help in the half court, and unselfish on the other end.


Burnett led the Rebels with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Sebastian Saiz added 15 points and 13 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season. But they didn't get much help.

The good news for Ole Miss is that it has played Kentucky and Florida, the teams picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the SEC this season.

"I think there's been some things exposed because we played teams," Kennedy said. "My hope is that we will learn from that and grow from it and improve."


Coming off a difficult two-game start in SEC play, Mississippi travels to Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers are 6-1 at home this season.

Florida hosts rival Tennessee on Saturday, trying to start 3-0 in league play for the fourth time in the last five years.