Florida slips past Ole Miss

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Canyon Barry spent the last few weeks staying late after practice, knowing it was the only way he was going to get out his shooting slump.

The extra work paid off against Ole Miss.

Barry tied a season high with 20 points, KeVaughn Allen added 14, and No. 24 Florida held off the Rebels 70-63 on Tuesday night.

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“If he doesn’t come off the bench and have the game that he has, we could be sitting here in the other column,” Gators coach Mike White said. “He didn’t play a perfect game, but he was good. He was probably the MVP for us.”

Barry provided a spark off the bench after the Gators missed 12 of their first 15 shots. He helped them build a 20-point lead that Ole Miss only managed to get to single digits twice in the second half.

Deandre Burnett’s 3-pointer cut Florida’s big lead to 42-34 with 14:18 remaining. The Gators (11-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) responded with an 11-0 spurt that essentially put the game away.

The Rebels made another run, trimming it to 69-63 on Burnett’s driving layup with 20.1 seconds remaining. But it was too little, too late — even with Kasey Hill missing four consecutive free throws and Chris Chiozza clanging another.

“Without saying a word to him, Kasey Hill will shoot 200 to 500 free throws tomorrow,” White said.
Devin Robinson added 11 points for Florida, which improved to 2-0 at the recently renovated Exactech Arena. Hill chipped in eight points, six steals, five rebounds, five assists, but he also had five turnovers.

“Kasey Hill was the real issue for us,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.

So were turnovers. Ole Miss (9-5, 0-2) finished with 21, the team’s most since the season opener against Tennessee-Martin.

“Turnovers have been a nuisance for us really since our exhibition game,” Kennedy said. “At times I feel like we’re getting over it, and then tonight it rears its ugly head. … That’s just a recipe for disaster, something we’ve got to improve upon.”

Burnett led the Rebels with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Sebastian Saiz added 15 points and 13 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season.

The good news for Ole Miss is that it has played Kentucky and Florida, the teams picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the SEC this season. Ole Miss travels to Auburn on Saturday.

“I think there’s been some things exposed because we played teams,” Kennedy said. “My hope is that we will learn from that and grow from it and improve.”