Mizzou Men’s Basketball secured its first Southeastern Conference win of the season, downing Florida 91-75, Saturday night at Mizzou Arena. The win marks Mizzou’s (9-6, 2-1 SEC) third ever victory over the Gators (10-5, 2-1 SEC) and first since Feb. 24, 2015. The Tigers hit 60% of their shots in the first half and jumped on a cold Gators squad who was just eight of 26 through the first 20 minutes to open a 51-36 lead.
From there the Tigers maintained their lead by hitting at 63% in the second half.
Mizzou opened an eight point lead early when Xavier Pinson found Reed Nikko alone under the rim for dunk. On the other end, Nikko forced a turnover and sent the 6’2 Pinson the length of the floor who dunked over a 6’10 defender Omar Payne giving the Tigers a 13-5 lead. Florida cut it to six with ten minutes to play on a Kerry Blacksheer dunk, but Mizzou went on a 18-7 over the next 5:15 to expand the lead to 40-23. The Gators never got it closer than ten in the second half.
Dru Smith led Mizzou with 22 points, six assists and five steals. Mark Smith and Javon Pickett each added 14 points as nine different Tigers scored, with eight hitting a three.
Right from the very beginning it looked as though Florida wanted no business playing with the later start at 7:30 and they were ready to get away from cold and snowy Columbia. Despite the services of Jeremiah Tilmon, Mizzou scored 40 points in the paint. Where Mizzou got blocked and well defended against Tennessee who collapsed the lane on Tuesday night, the Tigers were driving nearly uncontested. It also helped that the Tigers were hitting tonight from long range going 12-for-19.
After two non-threatening efforts to open SEC play at Kentucky and then against Tennessee, Cuonzo Martin called it one of his team’s best efforts from start to finish.
Mizzou will travel to Starkville, Miss., to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.