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No. 8 Florida hands Mississippi State second-worst home loss ever, 82-47

The SportsXchange

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Florida's formula for success has been simple this season: balanced scoring combined with strong defense.

On Saturday night, the No. 8 Gators added another element -- the 3-point shot -- as Florida made a season-high 14 3-pointers in its 82-47 win over Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum.

Florida (16-2, 6-0 SEC) won its eighth straight for its longest winning streak since starting the 2009-10 season 8-0. The Gators also handed Mississippi State (7-11, 2-4 SEC) their second-worst home loss in school history. Mississippi State's worst home loss was by 41 points to Vanderbilt in 1993.

"I think Florida, by far, is the best team in the SEC," Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. "I don't think anyone in the country is playing as well as they are right now."

Seniors Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy scored 18 points each for the Gators. Scottie Wilbekin added 13 points and nine assists and Patric Young had 13 points and six rebounds.

"Obviously, we've been playing well, but every game is a new game so we have to prepare for each game and keep our focus," Murphy said. "You have to prepare for everything in college basketball because everything is so unpredictable.

Freshman guard Fred Thomas led Mississippi State with 19 points. Forwards Gavin Ware and Colin Borchert each added 10 points for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State lost its fourth straight after a 2-0 conference start.

"Right now, we're just a selfish basketball team," Ray said. "We're not defending as well because we've got guys who are wrapped up in their offense."

After struggling early in its last game against Georgia, Florida got off to a much better start on the road against Mississippi State. The Gators jumped ahead 17-6 early. Boynton and Murphy combined to score 15 of UF's first 17 points.

During the stretch, the Gators shot 60 percent from the field (6 of 10) and 50 percent from 3-point range (3 of 6).

"It was encouraging to see our guys get off to a much better start," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Florida extended its first-half lead to 23 points at 31-8 on a Boynton 3-pointer. But Mississippi State responded with a 7-0 run, highlighted by two inside baskets from freshman Gavin Ware and three free throws from Thomas.

A driving layup from Mississippi State freshman Craig Sword cut Florida's lead to 33-17. But the Gators closed the half with an 8-2 run to lead 41-19 at halftime. Young scored five of the points for Florida on two inside baskets and a free throw. Freshman Michael Frazier added his second 3-pointer of the first half for the Gators.

Florida shot 48.4 percent from the floor in the first half and 35.3 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, the Gators held Mississippi State to 29.2 percent shooting. Mississippi State missed all five of its 3-point attempts.

Up 41-21 early in the second half, Florida put the game away with a 15-0 run to extend its lead to 56-21. Murphy made two 3-pointers during the run and Boynton added his fourth 3-pointer of the game.

"We moved and passed and shared the ball well," Donovan said. "I thought we ended up with excellent looks at the basket."

NOTES: Florida junior forward Casey Prather sat out his fourth straight game with a high ankle sprain. Prather took part in full-speed workouts before the Mississippi State game, but has yet to be cleared for contact. ... Both Mississippi State and Florida coaching staffs wore sneakers to raise awareness for Coaches vs. Cancer. ... With his 19 points, Thomas also had 7 steals for Mississippi State, which is tied for the second-most steals in a game in school history. ... Florida's previous high for 3-pointers this season was 11 in a 79-66 win against UCF on Nov. 23. ... Florida held its 10th opponent this season under 50 points.

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