Todd Golden’s media scrum highlights following nail-biter against Mizzou

The Florida basketball team narrowly escaped disaster on Wednesday night, nearly falling to the lowly Missouri Tigers but coming away with an 83-74 victory in Exactech Arena.

Missouri had the Gators fighting against the ropes in the opening minutes of the second half, but eventually, Florida was back on track thanks to efforts from forward Tyrese Samuel, who recorded a double-double while racking up a team-high 28 points and 10 rebounds.

Samuel took over the offense after junior guard Walter Clayton Jr, fouled out after taking a technical.

Florida head coach Todd Golden addressed the media following the nail-biting win. With only three games left in the regular season, the momentum seems to be on the Gators’ side going into the chaos of March.

Check out the highlights from Golden’s post-game press conference following UF’s second-straight win.

Winning tough game going into March

Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner
Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner

I felt like this was going to be really challenging game for us. Obviously, Missouri hasn’t had success in league yet, but it’s kind of crazy to me that they haven’t. They’re talented. They’ve obviously been dealing with a lot of injuries, so they may be playing some guys out of position a little bit.

But when you’re staring at East and Bates and Connor coming downhill at you all night, they have really good size around the rim and they played really good zone against us. It’s a team that can take you out of your stuff and bother you a little bit.”

“I thought the first half we played really well but we didn’t make shots. So we’re up nine and a couple threes go and we’re we’re 15 instead. That’s what it kind of felt like at halftime. So the message to our guys was, hey let’s keep digging back in and be consistent I need 20 more minutes like that and we’ll be in really good shape.

The way that a second half started just was not in our favor. We miss a good look, they cut it to six, before it’s a one-possession game. Walt gets banged with 14 minutes to go, he’s out, and now we’re in a much different situation than we envisioned being in coming out of halftime.

So I was proud of our guy, I felt we were pretty gritty down the stretch. We didn’t lose confidence even though we had trouble attacking the zone for a little bit. I think we made 11 out of our last 13 field goals attacking the zone really well. Obviously, Tyrese was a grown man tonight. He did an incredible job, 28 points, 10 rebounds. ZP was great as well. Two seniors really stepped up tonight and we found a way.

Florida's senior leadership

Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun
Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun

Again, they were just awesome. In tight moments, you want your experience guys to step up and shoulder a little more than load. We did a good job putting Tyrese in the high post and getting him catches in the paint, where he’s just  a great decision maker and a really good playmaker.

Obviously his finishes, but he also had some really good passes out of there and good decisions. They stepped up and made big shots. We had that stretch. I think Will hit that big three in the corner to kind of get himself off the schneid and then ZP hit back-to-back, that kind of gave us some good momentum and some juice back.

Then down the stretch we made 11 our last 13 field goals, we found a way in a second half where we weren’t at our best.

Tyrese Samuel's performance

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

It felt great. absolutely fantastic. Good timing. He’s was good in the first half, he had 12 and six at halftime. I felt his motor was running really high. When his motors running like that, he’s just one of the best frontcourt players in the league.

And again, zone there’s only so many different things you can draw up against the zone, you got to have some feel, you got to have some good decision making and be a basketball player.

I felt like that showed big time for him in those moments just with his tight catches, and then his tight moves and tight space being able to put it in with either hand, and-one finishes, that don’t I can’t remember who he punched it on. But that that should be a sports at the top 10 for sure tonight. I felt like his experience really showed in that moment.

Walter Clayton's technical foul and foul out

Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner
Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner

They said he used bad language towards the bench. I’m not going to comment on that.

Reaching 20 wins on the season

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

I’d say we’re on a pretty good trajectory at the moment, you know, really hard to do, 17-18, I think that as the Elite Eight team (Round of 32) but it’s been a while like 20 is hard to do, especially in the regular season we’ve got three opportunities all will be very challenging but I’m proud of where our program is at, a lot of credit to my staff.

I feel like year one, we did a good job but obviously the on-court success wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but I do think our staff has improved a lot and a lot of it is just comfort, working together, another year, but they stepped it up, and obviously our players they are the ones at the end of the day are responsible for the wins they are the ones on the court, making the plays and getting the stops.”

So they’ve done their part and the thing that we keep talking to our guys about is not being satisfied where we are at, we couldn’t be satisfied going into this game, we had 19 wins, we are 9-5, in the league, we can’t be satisfied we got to 10 league wins.

We still have three great opportunities, dependent on what happens across the league tonight we can still challenge for the league, if the right things happen and break our way we could still challenge for a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament which getting a double bye would be a great accomplishment for us in year two.

I feel like we have a lot left, with that being said I’m really happy with where we are and what we’ve done to this point.

Unexpected top-25 matchup against South Carolina

Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner
Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner

I know their personnel but not super, super deeply yet. But I think Lamont has done an incredible job this year. He went out, added some really good transfers that were system fits. He’s got his young guys playing really well.

They have a great freshman, Murray-Boyles, who’s playing his butt off. One of the better young guys in the league. And they have an identity. They come out, they’re physical, they guard you, they make you earn everything offensively. And then on the other end, they play really well together.

I feel like they’re very connected offensively. There’s no selfishness. They don’t take a lot of bad shots. They move the ball really well and they grind you out. And I feel like Saturday is gonna be a little bit of a clash of styles. And if we can do a good job pushing tempo and keeping pace up, I think that would benefit us.

If we get stuck in halfcourt in a grind-it-out game, I think that’s going to benefit them. But it’s a big game at this point of the year. Obviously whoever wins this, they’ll probably give themselves the advantage against the other opponent in terms of seeding down the stretch. And I feel comfortable speaking for Lamont that he’d be really happy if they finish in the top four also.

Is the team where they need to be?

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

That’s a tough question. I think we’re maybe a little ahead. I would have hoped to make the tournament this year, but you go and look at the coaches in this league that have had a lot of success, it takes a while to get good.

I think Bruce’s first tournament team was Year Four. I think Rick Barnes’ first tournament team was Year Three. Nate’s was Year Two. Cal was Year One. I think Buzz was four or five. It’s really hard, especially with how good the league is at the top with Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky.

Like, it’s not that easy to break into that mix, especially considering every single one of those programs that I just mentioned, their coach has been there for a long time and they have very sustained programs and sustained success. So for us to be in that equation, yeah, I think we’re a little ahead of where we quote-unquote should be in Year Two.

But what does that matter? Like, what does it mean? We’re gonna be judged on how we finish the year anyways and you’ll forget we ever had this conversation.

Next up

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida hits the road to take on the No. 18 South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, March 2 in the first of the final three games of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for noon ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Read more

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PHOTOS: Highlights from Florida’s home win vs Missouri Tigers

Florida basketball remains in AP Poll top 25 after split week

Florida finally cracks USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll in Week 17

Florida drops in NET rankings following close home win over Missouri

Florida holds tight to spot in KenPom rankings after Mizzou win

Gators slide after win but still in Basketball Power Index top 30


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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire