By the Associated Press
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s easy to pinpoint what went wrong for No. 17 Missouri.
It’s impossible to find something that went right for the Tigers in an 83-52 loss at No. 10 Florida on Saturday.
Missouri (13-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) played without leading scorer Laurence Bowers, who missed his third consecutive game with a sprained ligament in his right knee. Point guard Phil Pressey, who seemingly tried to do too much, finished with two points and a career-high 10 turnovers. And the Tigers were no match for Florida’s pressing defense and balanced attack.
The result was the team’s worst loss since a 100-63 setback against Kansas State on Feb. 16, 2008.
“They beat us in every facet of the game: loose balls, rebounding, execution on both ends,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said. “They just played very, very well, and we didn’t play like we need to play to come in here and beat a team the caliber of Florida.”
Laurence Bowers, right, shown on the bench on January 16, 2013, sat out again for the Florida game. On the left is Corey Haith.
Jabari Brown led the Tigers with 16 points, and Keion Bell added 14 before leaving the game with a sprained ankle.
The Tigers shot 32.7 percent from the field, missed 18 of 24 from 3-point range and were outrebounded by 10. They also had 21 turnovers, which led to 34 points for Florida, had seven shots blocked and never found an offensive or defensive rhythm.
“A lot of the mistakes that we made were just mistakes that we made within ourselves,” Bell said. “We didn’t really execute. It was kind of what they were doing, but a lot of stuff was self-inflicted.”
The Gators jumped all over Missouri from the opening tip, scoring the first nine points and pulling out to a 15-2 lead. The Tigers had six turnovers, including three by Pressey, in the first 8 minutes of the game.
“As a team, we underestimated the amount of pressure that their full-court press would put on us,” Bell said.
Florida made 13 of its first 18 shots. Things really started getting out of hand for the Tigers when Kenny Boynton got going midway through the first half. He hit a 3 and then made two layups — both off turnovers by Pressey — that put the Gators ahead 29-12.
Florida made it a 20-point game early in the second half and then turned it into a laugher with dunk after dunk. Erik Murphy, Pat Young and Will Yeguete all had slams, giving the sellout crowd at the O’Connell Center everything it wanted from the home team — including coach Billy Donovan’s 400th win at Florida.
Donovan became the third coach in SEC history to reach 400 wins at the same school, joining Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp and LSU’s Dale Brown.
No surprise, the dean of SEC coaches credited players past and present.
“It’s always special when you have friends and family and your players and your crowd,” Donovan said. “But like I said before, all those individual things as it relates to coaching, it’s much, much more a reflection on the players I’ve had a chance to coach here. That’s really what it’s about. I don’t look at them as my wins. … I never, ever look at those things as being something I did. It’s always a ‘we’ thing. There’s a lot of people involved.”
Just about everyone on Florida’s bench chipped in for Donovan’s 400th.
Scottie Wilbekin had 13 points and 10 assists, his first career double-double. Murphy finished with 15 points, Kenny Boynton added 14 and Young chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Will Yeguete had 13 points and six boards.
The Gators (14-2, 4-0 SEC), who won their sixth consecutive game, clearly made another statement about being the class of the league.
And they’re not even fully healthy.
Yeguete (knee tendinitis), Rosario (sprained ankle), Wilbekin (broken finger) and Murphy (broken rib) all played through injuries. Backup forward Casey Prather missed his second straight game with a high-ankle sprain.
Nonetheless, Florida has won all four SEC games by at least 20 points.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of Florida’s latest lopsided victory was Wilbekin’s defense. The junior guard shut down Pressey. He pretty did the same to Texas A&M’s Elston Turner on Thursday night.
“I thought he tried to take the game on,” Haith said of Pressey. “In an environment and a game like this, you’ve really got to trust your teammates. I’m sure Phil will want to just get to the next one.”
Missouri’s next game is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22 against South Carolina at Mizzou Arena at 6 p.m.