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No. 1 Gators turn it on late, mow down Tigers

March 14th, 2014 3:28 pm by Associated Press

No. 1 Gators turn it on late, mow down Tigers

Florida center Patric Young (4) moves past Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson (5) during their SEC quarterfinal game Friday in Atlanta. (AP Photo)

ATLANTA — Scottie Wilbekin scored 15 points and No. 1 Florida kept its unbeaten run in Southeastern Conference play alive, using one of its customary spurts to rout Missouri 72-49 in the quarterfinals of the league tournament Friday.

The game was tied 29-29 at halftime, and the Tigers were still in it with about 10 minutes to go. That's when Wilbekin and the Gators (30-2) suddenly took control.

After Will Yeguete laid one in off a nifty pass from Kasey Hill, Florida pressed the inbounds pass, Wilbekin came up with a steal, then got free in the corner for a 3-pointer. Missouri missed at the other end, Patric Young connected on a short hook and just like that, the Gators had stretched a two-point lead to 45-36.

It only got worse from there for the Tigers.

During a wild scramble on the floor, Wilbekin swiped the ball away from Keanau Post and smartly called a timeout to ensure the Gators kept the ball. Then, coming out of the break, the senior guard knocked down another trey to put the Gators ahead 50-46.

Wilbekin finished 5-for-6 beyond the arc, highlighting a 12-of-21 performance by Florida from long range. Michael Frazier also had 15 points for Gators and Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in with 10, but this was the usual team effort by the first squad to go 18-0 in SEC play during the regular season.

Eight Florida players scored at least four points. Hill had five assists. Finney-Smith grabbed nine rebounds.

And as the closing seconds ticked off the clock, coach Billy Donovan was able to clear his bench.

The Gators outscored Missouri 34-13 over the final 10:06, advancing to face the winner of Tennessee-South Carolina game.

Jabari Brown scored 18 points to lead Missouri, but Jordan Clarkson with 11 was the only other player in double figures. The Tigers shot just 36 percent (16-of-44) from the field, including a dismal 1-of-13 performance from outside the stripe — which looked even worse next to Florida's dead-eye shooting from the outside.

Now, Missouri will have to hope it's done enough to land a spot in the NCAA tournament, but its performance in the league may keep the Tigers out. After starting 12-1 and claiming a spot in the Top 25, they went 9-9 in the SEC and split their two games at the Georgia Dome.

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