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Samuel carries No. 24 Florida to victory over Missouri

Icon Sportswire / Getty

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tyrese Samuel scored a season-high 28 points, Zyon Pullin added 21 and No. 24 Florida never trailed in an 83-74 victory over woeful Missouri on Wednesday night.

Samuel and Pullin scored 23 of the team's final 25 points, taking over after leading scorer Walter Clayton Jr. fouled out with 14 minutes to play.

The Gators (20-8, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) won for the ninth time in 11 games to reach 20 victories for the first time since the 2017-18 season. The Tigers (8-20, 0-15) lost their 15th in a row and guaranteed a last-place finish in the league as well as the 14th seed in the conference tournament.

Florida has been on the rise for weeks and is now 2-1 — with the lone loss coming at then-No. 13 Alabama in overtime last week — since getting ranked for the first time in coach Todd Golden’s two seasons.

This one was closer than many expected, though. The Gators were 13 1/2-point favorites but found themselves clinging to the lead after coming out flat to start the second half.

Missouri whittled a double-digit deficit to 55-54 after Nick Honor made three free throws with Clayton on the bench.

Florida’s Will Richard answered with his first 3-pointer of the night after missing six from long range. Pullin followed with another trey, and the Gators started to pull away. Samuel then converted a three-point play and made a layup on consecutive possessions. He finished with 10 rebounds.

Pullin and Samuel stepped up after Clayton sat down. Clayton picked up his fifth foul on a technical while arguing a defensive foul called against him. He finished with 13 points, five assists and three rebounds.

Micah Handlogten chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds for Florida, which won its seventh straight at home and improved to 13-1 in the O’Connell Center. Pullin rebounded from his worst offensive outing of the season — he scored two points against Vanderbilt on Saturday — and reached double figures for the 27th time in 28 games.

Sean East II led the Tigers with 20 points. Honor added 18, and Tamar Bates, who torched the Gators for 36 points in their first meeting of the season, finished with 15.


Missouri: The Tigers have endured several tough losses during their skid, but they weren’t all that competitive in this one. Florida led comfortably in the first half and pulled away down the stretch after Mizzou provided a brief scare.

Florida: The Gators avoided a letdown and prevented what would have been a huge hit to their NCAA Tournament resume. They are one of just a handful of teams in the country to not have a loss outside Quad 1 games.


Missouri: Hosts Mississippi on Saturday.

Florida: At No. 18 South Carolina on Saturday.


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