The game wasn’t pretty, not by a long shot.
Florida players couldn’t finish at the basket, three-pointers were bouncing off the front of the rim and sloppy defense allowed Mississippi State to skate into the paint for easy buckets.
It came down to the wire for the fourth game in a row, but Florida, yet again, couldn’t pull away with the win.
It lost at the buzzer this time.
Bulldogs guard Quinndary Weatherspoon received the inbounds pass, noticed the hole in the middle of the court and attacked the basket before UF center Kevarrius Hayes could slide to draw a charge.
All Hayes could do was watch as the ball bounced off the backboard and into the net, and listen as the referee blew his whistle signaling a foul.
The Gators men’s basketball team couldn’t finish for the third time in four games, succumbing to the same mistakes that have plagued the team since the start of 2019 — lack of effort on the defensive end and a failure to win games in the final minutes.
No. 24 Mississippi State edged out Florida 71-68 on Tuesday night in Starkville, Mississippi, UF’s second loss to a ranked-opponent in as many games.
Guard KeVaughn Allen dropped a game-high 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting with three assists and two rebounds. He anchored the offense in the second half of the game, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line.
No player really stood out, other than Allen.
Guard Andrew Nembhard tied his season-high of 13 points and garnered eight assists but turned the ball over six times and missed seven threes.
Guards Noah Locke (12 points) and Keyontae Johnson (11 points) each scored in double digits, but they were limited in what they could do against Mississippi State due to defensive pressure. Locke only attempted four three pointers, his lowest since Florida’s loss to Michigan State on Dec. 8.
The biggest difference in the game was the shooting. Mississippi State (13-3, 1-2 SEC) took more controlled shots and had a higher shooting percentage because of it. It shot 53.1 percent from the field, compared to UF’s 42.4 percent.
The Bulldogs shot 58.8 percent from beyond the arc, while the Gators (9-7, 1-3 SEC) shot a measly 32.3 percent.
The reason the game was so close, however, was because of the turnovers. Mississippi State turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 21 points for Florida. The Gators committed 11 turnovers, but the Bulldogs only turned those into 12 points.
It allowed UF to stay in the game late and gave it a chance to win at the end.
It just couldn’t close the contest out, yet again.
As Weatherspoon drove to the basket, those hopes diminished as the ball fell through the net.
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at email@example.com.
UF guard KeVaughn Allen scored a game-high 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting during Florida's 71-68 loss to Mississippi State on Tuesday in Starkville, Mississippi.