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No. 2 Florida coasts to easy 83-58 win over Mississippi State

The SportsXchange

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After a disappointing loss at Arkansas, Florida didn't take long to get back on track.

Mike Rosario led five Florida scorers in double figures with 18 points, lifting the No. 2 Gators to an 83-58 win over Mississippi State on Saturday at the O'Connell Center. The Gators improved to a perfect 11-0 at home this season.

"Our guys understood that we needed to come out here and play better and play like we're capable of," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Erik Murphy added 17 points for the Gators (19-3, 9-1 SEC) before being taken back to the locker room with four minutes remaining with a leg injury. After the game, Donovan said Murphy "tweaked" his ankle and will be fine for UF's showdown Tuesday at home against Kentucky.

Rosario scored 10 of his 18 in the first half, helping UF build a 42-26 halftime lead.

"We did a great job attacking off the dribble tonight," Rosario said. "Offensively, I just tried to be aggressive. Being a fifth-year senior, it was important to get off to a good start. My team needs that from me."

Casey Prather scored 12 points off the bench for Florida. Freshman Michael Frazier II added 11 points and senior guard Kenny Boynton had 10 points and six assists.

Freshman center Gavin Ware led Mississippi State (7-15, 2-8 SEC) with 16 points. Colin Borchert added 14 points and Trivante Bloodman scored 10 points. The Bulldogs dropped their eighth straight game.

Florida scored 21 points off 16 Mississippi State turnovers.

"We gave (Florida) too many points off turnovers," Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. "That continues to be a problem for us."

Up 15-10 early, Florida created some breathing room with an 11-0 run. Michael Frazier's third straight 3-pointer extended Florida's lead to 18-10. Murphy followed with a short jumper in lane and Prather got a steal on the press and breakaway dunk to extend Florida's lead to 22-10.

Another Prather jumper and two free throws from Boynton put the Gators ahead 26-10.

Prather played in just his fourth game since coming back from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games earlier this season.

"He gave us some good minutes off the bench and did some good things for our team when we needed it," Donovan said.

From there, the Gators maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the half. Mississippi State cut Florida's lead to 39-26 on a steal and dunk by freshman guard Craig Sword with 1:33 left.

But Rosario followed with a driving basket to put Florida back up 41-26 with 51.3 seconds left. Boynton then made one of two free throws after being fouled on a runout to give the Gators a 42-26 halftime lead.

Florida shot 55.2 percent from the floor in the first half and 42.9 percent (6 of 14) from 3-point range. After missing their first five 3-point attempts, the Gators made six of their next nine to close out the half.

NOTES: Florida junior forward Will Yeguete underwent successful surgery Friday to remove bone chips in his knee. He's expected to be out four to six weeks. ... Donovan benched starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin for undisclosed reasons. Boynton started at point guard for the Gators and Frazier, a freshman, made his first career start in place of Wilbekin. ... Mississippi State played without junior guard Jalen Steele, who was suspended indefinitely by the team for disciplinary reasons.
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