Thursday January 5, 2012Florida Defeats Ole Miss 58-53 for First SEC Road Win
Jordan Jones scored 18 points in the win.
Jordan Jones scored 18 points in the win.
Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) nailed a three-pointer late, Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) posted her seventh consecutive double-double and Florida defeated Ole Miss, 58-53, at Tad Smith Coliseum on Thursday evening.
After Ole Miss cut Florida’s lead to four points late, Jones stepped up and nailed her fourth three-pointer of the game and gave the Gators a 58-51 lead with 3:13 remaining, as Florida held on to collect its first Southeastern Conference road win of the season and improved to 11-4 overall and 1-1 in league action.
“We can look at a lot of different things, but we just won,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We won the possessions that matter most and during the critical moments we came up with big plays. This certainly wasn’t the way we drew up this game, but that’s also what I mean by we just won. We did what we had to do. Especially on the road and definitely in the SEC sometimes the best-laid plans don’t work and sometimes you have to go to plan ‘B’ and even plan C.”
George finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while dishing three assists, as her double-double streak of seven is tied for the sixth longest streak in program history.
“Jennifer was a big part of our win,” Butler shared. “It felt like she took a lot of contact and handled that with a lot of poise and composure and made big plays, sometimes on her second shot after they blocked her first one. She really came around after being challenged.”
Jones also scored 18 points, converting 6-of-9 overall from the floor, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and 2-of-3 from the free throw line.
“Whenever Jordan shoots the ball well it gives all of our team confidence,” Butler said. “To hold an SEC team to 55 points on its home court is significant.”
The Gators shot 35.6 percent overall from the floor, while Ole Miss (10-5, 0-2 SEC) hit 38.1 percent overall and just 2-of-17 from the three-point arc.
UM’s Nikki Byrd led the Rebels with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Valencia McFarland added 13 points and Kenyotta Jenkins at 10 points and 10 rebounds, helping Ole Miss out-rebound Florida, 43-37, and snap the Gator’s 11 game run of winning the battle of the boards.
After Ole Miss cut Florida’s halftime lead to five points, 37-32, the Gators used a 9-2 run to take a 46-34 advantage with 16:24 remaining, as Jordan Jones scored five during the span and Azania Stewart and Jennifer George both dropped in two.
The Rebels responded by scoring the next eight points of the game over a 4:20 span and closed within four points, 46-42, with 11:42 on the clock.
George halted the run with one free throw, but Ole Miss continued its march with an inside bucket from LaTosha Laws, as the Rebels crept within three points with 11:17 to go.
Florida had a couple chances to build on its lead, but missed chip shots inside and turned the ball over. Ole Miss couldn’t take advantage and George ended both team’s respective dry spells with an offensive rebound put-back with 9:07 remaining. George then converted one of two free throws and had the Gators ahead 50-44, before Florida turned up its defensive pressure and forced a shot clock violation with just under eight minutes remaining.
Jordan Jones came out hot from the media timeout and nailed her second three-pointer of the game and gave Florida a 53-44 lead with 7:37 remaining.
Ole Miss answered with a 5-0 run, capped by a three-point play from Nikki Byrd.
Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England) stepped out and hit a 12-foot jumper, before Byrd hit two more free throws and kept the Gator lead at four points, 55-51, with 4:19 to go.
Neither team could convert offensively for the next two minutes, before Jones canned a three-pointer in front of the Gator bench and lifted Florida to a 58-51 advantage with 3:13 on the clock.
Maggie McFerrin scored a deep bucket with 1:46 remaining and cut UF’s lead to five with 1:46.
Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.), who was hampered in the second half with an ankle sprain, hit one free throw with 38.8 seconds remaining and gave the Gators a 59-53 lead, but Ole Miss continued to press and Kenyotta Jenkins put back an offensive rebound and had the Rebels within four points with 17 seconds remaining.
Jones had a chance to seal the game at the line, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving life to the Rebels, who were unable to close the gap and the Gators walked off with their first SEC road win of the year.
Florida got off to a slow start, turning the ball over three times in its first four offensive possessions, while Ole Miss jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead. The Gators managed to attempt just three shots over the opening four-plus minutes of the game, while the Rebels connected on 4-of-10 during the early span.
The Rebels continued their game-opening spurt with another bucket and extended their lead to nine points.
Deana Allen (Houma, La.) ended the run with a three-pointer from the left side at the 14:32 mark and the teams traded buckets, with Florida’s coming from Azania Stewart, who knocked down a 16-footer from straight away and ignited a 13-0 run over the next 5:06, as Allen, Jones and Andrea Vilaró Aragonés (Barcelona, Spain) also scored during the stretch and gave the Gators an 18-13 lead.
Jones scored seven points during the run, three of which came from a three-pointer, as she connected on deep for the 11th consecutive game, a streak tied for the 12th longest of its kind in program history.
Whitney Hameth finally ended the run as she collected a loose defensive rebound and ran the length of the court for a tough layin.
George came right back with a fastbreak bucket for the Gators, with one of Jaterra Bonds’ (Gainesville, Fla.) three assists of the first half.
Ole Miss then scored the next four points and closed within one point, 20-19, with 6:59 remaining. The team traded scores before the Gators ripped off a 10-0 run with eight points from George, who gave Florida a 32-21 lead, with 3:08 remaining in the period.
The hosts came right back with the next seven points and cut UF’s lead to four points, 32-28, before Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) scored the final five points of the half and the Gators headed into the halftime locker room with a 37-28 lead.
Eight different Gators scored during the first half, paced by 12 from George, who also collected six rebounds. Florida regrouped from a slow start and connected on 46.7 percent from the floor, hitting 14-of-30 overall and 3-of-7 from long range.
The Gators return to action on Sunday, playing host to South Carolina (13-2, 2-0 SEC) in the O’Connell Center beginning at 2 p.m. ET. The radio broadcast of the game can be heard live in Gainesville on WBXY-FM 99.5 “The Star” and thru the internet at www.GatorZone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators. GatorVision Online also will provide live streaming video of the game, with the link to the feed at www.GatorZone.tv.
The Gamecocks upset No. 24/21 Vanderbilt, 65-55, on Thursday in Columbia, and have won seven consecutive games entering Sunday’s contest against the Gators. The 13-2 record is South Carolina’s best start to a season since the 2002-03 squad opened 13-1.
Other SEC Scores from Thursday:
#10/9 KENTUCKY d. Arkansas, 84-72
SOUTH CAROLINA d. #24/21 Vanderbilt, 65-55
#6/7 TENNESSEE d. #15 Georgia, 80-51
Auburn d. ALABAMA, 65-55
LSU d. MISSISSIPPI STATE, 53-48