Florida guard Egor Koulechov received a pass at the top of the arc five minutes into the game and drained a three-point shot to tie the score at seven apiece. In the early stages of UF’s 71-54 win against Mississippi State on Wednesday, Koulechov scored the Gators’ first 13 points of the contest.

He finished with a game-high 23 points, 17 of which came in the first half.

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“It’s nice to see him playing with confidence,” Florida coach Mike White said.

At times this season, confidence seemed to elude the graduate transfer. Against Gonzaga on Nov. 24, Koulechov shot a seasonlow 11.1 percent from the field. His next six games were full of inconsistency, scoring eight points or less in three of the contests while also recording a 21-point performance against Cincinnati.

White told reporters on Dec. 31 that Koulechov was dealing with plantar fascitis, providing a possible explanation for his struggles.

But in Florida’s last four games, the native of Volgograd, Russia, has reemerged as a scoring threat. He’s leading the Gators in points per game (19.8) during SEC play and is shooting 65 percent from the three-point line.

His play is one of the main reasons UF (12-4, 4-0 SEC) is on a six-game winning streak and is undefeated so far in conference play.

Koulechov’s 65-percent shooting from beyond the arc during SEC action is a vast improvement from the 19-percent mark he averaged in eight games between Nov. 24 and Dec. 22.

Although Koulechov is providing the spark Florida’s offense has been looking for, he’s still prioritizing the team over himself.

Following Wednesday’s win, he drew attention away from his performance and instead focused on UF’s shooting as a whole.

“We’re really confident right now, but we don’t let it get to our heads,” he said.

The grad transfer’s confidence in himself and his teammates will be needed when UF faces Ole Miss (9-7, 2-2 SEC) in Oxford on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Rebels are a middle-of-the-pack team in almost every statistical category, but have a higher average in rebounds per game (37.9), blocks per game (5.4) and assists per game (15.8) than Florida thanks to guard Terence Davis and forward Marcanvis Hymon.

Both Davis and Hymon lead the team with 5.9 and 5.8 rebounds per game, respectively. Hymon also leads Ole Miss with 20 blocks, while Davis and forward Justas Furmanavicius have 16 each.

On offense, the Rebels are led by guard Deandre Burnett, who’s averaging 14.4 points and 4.7 assists per game.

Like Florida, Ole Miss relies heavily on its backcourt, with five guards averaging at least 8.8 points per game, something White knows the Gators will need to look out for on Saturday.

“We’ve got to be very aware of who does what from what spot on the floor,” White said. “I think they’re a lot more dangerous than their record indicates.”

Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org.

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