Tampa Bay Sports Day

SEC: No. 13 Florida Tops South Carolina for Ninth Straight Win

KeVaughn Allen experienced a miserable contest the first time Florida played South Carolina this season, scoring one measly point.  Things went much better for the sophomore guard in Tuesday night’s rematch.

Allen contributed 26 points and a career-best seven rebounds as No. 13 Florida increased its win streak to nine games with a convincing 81-66 victory over South Carolina on Tuesday night at Gainesville, Fla.  Allen connected on 13 of 14 free throws while posting his second-highest scoring output of the season. He was 5-of-7 shooting and connected on three 3-pointers while reaching 20 points for the first time since Jan. 21.

“It was really big just to see the ball go through the hole,” Allen said. “It gave me a lot of confidence throughout the game.”

Junior forward Devin Robinson scored 14 points and junior point guard Chris Chiozza added 12 for the Gators (23-5, 13-2 SEC).  But there was no mistaking that it was Allen who fueled the victory.

“KeVaughn Allen obviously was geeked out to come out here and play today and protect his home court,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said.
Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell had 23 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Gamecocks, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Senior guard Duane Notice added 16 points for South Carolina (20-8, 10-5).

The Gamecocks experienced a late-season slide last season that cost them an NCAA Tournament berth. They are again slumping at the wrong time, but Martin said there was a good reason for the latest defeat.

“I think Florida is an elite team,” Martin said. “They are starting to play through (coach) Mike White’s eyes. It’s fun to watch, it’s not much fun to play against.”

Florida kept pace with No. 11 Kentucky for first place in the SEC. The Wildcats won at Missouri 72-62 later Tuesday. The Gators visit Kentucky on Saturday. Florida won the first meeting 88-66.

The Gators were 6 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half against the Gamecocks while methodically pulling away.

“We knew we were going to get open shots,” said Chiozza, “and we knew we were going to make them.”

Thornwell’s layup tied the score at 35 early in the second half before the Gators went on a 14-6 run to open an eight-point lead on Robinson’s three-point play.  South Carolina answered with the next five points before Allen and Robinson knocked down consecutive 3-pointers to give Florida a 55-46 edge with 11:48 remaining. The Gators pushed to lead to 61-50 on a 3-pointer by senior forward Justin Leon with 9:27 left.

 GAME NOTES: Florida senior G Canyon Barry (ankle) played nine minutes but was ineffective and scoreless and missed all three shots. … South Carolina senior G Sindarius Thornwell scored 20 or more points for the fifth consecutive game. … Gators freshman C Gorjok Gak (foot) sat out his sixth straight game. …. The Gamecocks hit 3 of 14 3-point attempts. … Florida missed all 17 3-point attempts in a 57-53 loss to South Carolina on Jan. 14 to end a streak of 850 games of making at least one dating to January 1992. … Gators PG Kasey Hill had two assists to raise his career total to 505 and assume sole control of second place on the school’s all-time list. He was tied with Ronnie Montgomery (503, 1984-88)