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Thursday, May 19, 2022
<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-7514f679-cdad-a055-a428-cdf6ba175c39"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7514f679-cdad-a055-a428-cdf6ba175c39">Florida guard Chris Chiozza </span></span></p>

Florida guard Chris Chiozza 

Chris Chiozza saw it coming the whole way.

Missouri guard Jordan Geist hadn’t even picked up his dribble before Florida’s senior leader made a break on the ball, intercepting Geist’s pass at the top of the key. Chiozza darted toward the basket and put up an uncontested layup to give the Gators the lead with 0.1 seconds left in the game.

“I always try to be even-keel,” Chiozza said after the game. “You never see really much emotion on my face, but sometimes I have to show a little bit extra to get these guys going… That’s what I tried to do the second half.”

Chiozza scored all 13 of his points in the second half and Florida (11-4, 3-0 SEC) escaped Columbia with a 77-75 win over the Tigers (11-4, 1-1 SEC) Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

UF struggled early, trailing for most of the first half. The Tigers led by as much as 12, often catching the Gators defense out of rotation and forcing Florida’s shooters into tough spots.

“You’re going to have halves where you don’t do too well,” Chiozza said.

With starting guards Kevaughn Allen and Chiozza struggling to score in the first half, junior guard Jalen Hudson helped out with nine points off the bench.

A 12-3 run to close out the first half with three-pointers from graduate transfer Egor Koulechov and freshman Mike Okauru, along with a pair of baskets by sophomore Keith Stone and a reverse layup from freshman Deaundre Ballard, sent Florida into the locker room with a 36-35 lead.

Florida had no answer for Missouri senior Jordan Barnett, who scored 15 of his 28 points in the first half. The Tigers hit six first-half three-pointers on nine attempts, and their 11 made threes overall was the second-highest mark allowed by the Gators this season.

Florida and Missouri traded scores throughout the second half, and a layup by Missouri’s Jontay Porter gave the Tigers a 75-70 lead with 1:32 left in the game. Hudson converted a three-point play for the Gators after getting fouled on a layup with 1:10 remaining, trimming the lead to 75-73.

After Koulechov was blocked driving to the rim, Hudson came up with the ball and was fouled again, this time on a three-point attempt with 21 seconds left. Hudson made two of his free throws to tie the game at 75, setting up Chiozza’s game-winning steal and score.

Hudson, the team’s leading scorer on the season, led UF with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Allen, the team’s top scorer a year ago, had just two points on 20-percent shooting in the win.

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Florida benefited from strong front court play as well. Stone and center Kevarrius Hayes combined for 23 points and 11 rebounds, along with three blocks and four steals.

UF is 5-0 in its last five games after going 1-4 in the five contests before that.

The Gators return to action on Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they’ll face Mississippi State at the O’Connell Center.

A TV broadcast contributed to this report.

Follow Andrew Huang on Twitter @AndrewJHuang and contact him at ahuang@alligator.org.

Florida guard Chris Chiozza 

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