Hoping to keep its slim chance of securing an at-large bid alive, Missouri matched top-ranked Florida shot for shot in the first half, going into the locker room tied at 29. The second half was a different story.
Led by senior point guard and SEC player of the year Scottie Wilbekin, the Gators turned up the energy and were deadly from three in the second half, eventually pulling away for a 72-49 victory.
The Tigers were hanging around until midway through the second half when Wilbekin made a huge play to stretch the Gators’ lead from two to seven in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
After Will Yeguete converted on a layup off a crisp feed from Kasey Hill, the Gators employed the full-court press on the ensuing inbounds pass. Wilbekin picked off the pass and with his momentum pulling him out of bounds, saved the ball to Yeguete. Wilbekin then got free in the corner and knocked down a three off a dish from Yeguete – his fourth successful three-ball in five attempts.
The Gators never looked back after that, outscoring the Tigers 29-13 the rest of the way. Florida converted 12-of-21 from three and forced 14 Mizzou turnovers. Wilbekin finished the day with 15 points and four steals, while Michael Frazier II added 15 points of his own.
Florida is pretty much a lock to be the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament, and after a performance like this and a 30-2 record, it’s easy to see why.
Florida has now won 24 consecutive games and will square off with the winner of Tennessee and South Carolina in Saturday’s semifinal.