STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)—Dee Bost might be missing some teeth. He’s definitely found his legs, though.
The Mississippi State junior, playing with his front teeth glued together after taking an elbow to the face earlier in the week, scored 24 points as the Bulldogs beat No. 24 Florida 71-64 on Saturday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
“Our chemistry keeps getting better and better,” Bost said. “We just need to keep fighting and getting these wins.”
Bost was playing in just his sixth game this season after missing the first 14. He lost five games due to academic issues and then served a nine-game NCAA suspension after failing to pull out of the NBA Draft by the deadline.
The rust was apparent in some of his early games, but the 6-foot-2 point guard was efficient against the Gators, making 8 of 14 shots from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range. He also added five assists and three rebounds.
Kodi Augustus and Renardo Sidney each scored 16. The Bulldogs (11-9, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) have won four of the last five against the Gators.
Only four Mississippi State players scored, but all of them finished in double figures. Ravern Johnson scored 15 points, including 13 in the first half, as the Bulldogs beat a ranked team for the first time this season.
The Bulldogs won despite being outrebounded 43-37 and giving up 17 offensive rebounds.
Florida (16-5, 5-2) trailed 51-42 early in the second half, but went on a 13-1 run to take a 55-52 lead. The game was tight from there, with five lead changes. But the Bulldogs pushed ahead in the final minute, making 6 of 6 free throws to seal the victory.
The clutch play was a stark contrast from barely 36 hours ago, when the Bulldogs led for most of the game before losing to No. 19 Vanderbilt.
“The things that beat us on Thursday night didn’t beat us tonight,” Stansbury said. “No missed block outs, no turnovers down the stretch.”
Florida came into the game with the SEC’s best conference record, but was hurt by a 9-of-19 performance (47.4 percent) at the free throw line, including several crucial misses in the final minutes. It’s a familiar problem for the Gators, who came into the game 10th in the SEC in free throw shooting at 66.2 percent.
Vernon Macklin made a free throw to tie the game at 64 with 3:32 remaining, but the Gators were held scoreless from that point.
“We had a great opportunity to come out on the road and get a win, and we just shot ourselves in the foot on the foul line,” said Florida’s Chandler Parsons, who added nine points and 10 rebounds.
Erving Walker led the Gators with 18 points, making 6 of 17 shots from the field. Macklin added 10 points and six rebounds.
“I thought we guarded Florida about as well as you can guard them,” Stansbury said.
Florida dominated in the paint, outscoring Mississippi State 38-16 and also held a 17-0 advantage in bench scoring.
Ten different Gators scored at least two points, but combined, they shot just 25 of 63 (39.7 percent) from the field.
“On the road, you want to put yourself in position to win,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “We felt this was going to be a battle all the way through. We certainly did not make shots or key free throws down the stretch.”
Mississippi State had a 40-38 advantage at halftime after leading by as many as 10 in the first half.