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Friday, January 27, 2023
<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-7326b7e4-7fff-4bb7-b1e9-aa2109d89ef0"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7326b7e4-7fff-4bb7-b1e9-aa2109d89ef0">Senior guard KeVaughn Allen has scored in double figures in 22 of the Gators’ 27 games this season, and he has led the team in scoring 11 times.</span></span></p>

Senior guard KeVaughn Allen has scored in double figures in 22 of the Gators’ 27 games this season, and he has led the team in scoring 11 times.

You may not have seen it coming two weeks ago.

An abysmal three-game stretch filled with offensive lapses and undisciplined play cast an ominous cloud over the Florida men’s basketball team’s postseason hopes.

Just four regular-season games remain, and the Gators are on a four-game winning streak and have surged into NCAA Tournament conversations.

How’d that happen for a team that was 1-3 through its first four conference games?

Some might say it’s because freshmen Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson and Andrew Nembhard have grown much more comfortable and confident in their roles as key all-around contributors.

Others might credit the Gators’ defensive efforts during the win streak. Since the loss to Tennessee on Feb. 9, Florida has only allowed 61.8 points per contest, and one of those games (against LSU) went to overtime.

The answer is much more simple than that, though.

KeVaughn Allen is the answer. He’s the reason Florida is back in NCAA Tournament projections, and he’s been the Gators’ answer in nearly all of their most important wins of the year.

Allen had a relatively quiet start to the season, falling into the shadows of Locke and Nembhard, specifically, both of whom coach Mike White said were the best players on the team early in the 2018-19 campaign.

But Allen’s play during Florida’s win streak, where he’s averaged 14.3 points and 3.5 rebounds, serves as a reminder that right now, he’s still Florida’s biggest asset.

He’s scored in double figures in 22 of the Gators’ 27 games this season, he has led the team in scoring 11 times and only one other player (Locke) is averaging double digits.

More important than Allen’s stats is his ability to knock down the big buckets, the momentum swinging shots that ultimately decide the fate of the game.

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He did it against Ole Miss on Jan. 30.

Allen hadn’t made a three-point shot all game before draining one with just 8.8 seconds left on the clock. It sent the contest to overtime and eventually sent Florida home with a win.

He did it again against No. 13 LSU on Feb. 20.

Allen was held scoreless in the first half. He nailed three shots from beyond the arc in the second period and paced the team with 12-overtime points to get the upset.

And Allen’s 17 points (14 in the second half) in the Gators’ comeback win over Missouri on Saturday was simply him doing what he’s grown accustomed to this season: make the shots that matter.

Allen has been Florida’s most clutch player this year. His recent confidence on the floor shows in the shots he takes.

And if Florida does enough in the final stint of the regular season to solidify its spot in the tournament, it’ll turn to its senior guard to find his shot at the most critical moments and propel the team to success.

Alanis Thames is the online sports editor of the Alligator. Follow her on Twitter @alanisthames and contact her at athames@alligator.org.

Senior guard KeVaughn Allen has scored in double figures in 22 of the Gators’ 27 games this season, and he has led the team in scoring 11 times.

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