(USA Today Sports Images)
Florida and Missouri were seen as contenders for the Southeastern Conference title and dark horse candidates for the Final Four at the start of this season. After they met in Gainesville Saturday, it appears the Gators are rising to those expectations and the Tigers are fading away.
Losing guard Michael Dixon earlier in the season to off-the-court issues and leading scorer Laurence Bowers temporarily to injury hasn't helped the 17th-ranked Tigers. Both players were sorely missed in No. 10 Florida's 83-52 romp.
There weren't many positives for Missouri in the aftermath, especially when considering that Florida was playing on less than two days rest after a road win at Texas A&M on Thursday and also isn't at full strength with a handful of players playing through injuries.
Missouri has leaned heavily on point guard Phil Pressey this season. Pressey has been special at times and dreadful at others. He played his worst game of the season against the Gators, who had a lot to do with it. Pressey scored just two points with 10 turnovers. Games like this are when Dixon used to prove invaluable taking some of the pressure of Pressey.
There is no way to sugarcoat the Tigers results. There best win right now is over an Illinois team that has dropped like an anvil since starting 12-0. Missouri has lost all three games it has played against teams with similar preseason expectations and Louisville and Florida made it look easy. Saturday's loss combined with a disappointing loss at Ole Miss, has the Tigers trailing Florida and Ole Miss by two games in the SEC standings.
The Tigers ran into a Florida team playing with supreme confidence of late. The Gators have won six straight games since a loss at Kansas State three days before Christmas. They have averaged 77 points while shooting better than 53 percent during the win streak. The Gators have beaten those six opponents by an average of 24 points a game.
The victory was No. 400 for Florida coach Billy Donovan at Florida. He joined Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp and LSU's Dale Brown as the only SEC coaches to win 400 games at one school.
Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleRingo
- Sports & Recreation