GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Canyon Barry tied a season high with 20 points, KeVaughn Allen added 14 and No. 24 Florida beat Mississippi 70-63 on Tuesday night.
Overcoming a cold shooting start, the Gators built a 19-point lead that the Rebels 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.
Ole Miss made another run, making it 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.
Devin Robinson added 11 points for Florida, which improved to 2-0 at the recently renovated Exactech Arena. Hill chipped in eight points, five rebounds and five assists, but he also had five turnovers.
Mississippi (9-5, 0-2) had even more ball-security issues. The Rebels turned it over 14 times in the first 17 minutes and finished with 21, their most since the season opener against Tennessee-Martin.
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 coach Mike 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.
Ole Miss may have had the toughest start possible in league play. Coming off a lopsided home loss to No. 6 Kentucky, the Rebels traveled to Florida and now are winless in two games.
Burnett led the Rebels with 18 points. Sebastian Saiz added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
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 at Florida, 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. Considering Florida is ranked third in RPI and has a strength of schedule that is second in the nation, they have a legitimate chance to be a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Coming off arguably the toughest two-game start to 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.