KeVaughn Allen picked a good time to resurface.
After scoring just 17 points in the Gators’ last four games, the Arkansas native exploded for a season high 28 against his hometown Razorbacks to lead Florida to a dominant 88-74 win. It’s Florida’s 13th straight win over the Razorbacks in the O’Dome, and the Gators’ seventh win in their last eight games.
Florida trailed for all of twenty seconds in this one. Down 15-13 five minutes into the contest, the Gators replied with a scintillating 22-5 rip that created enough breathing room for them to cruise the rest of the way. Arkansas made things interesting momentarily by cutting the lead down to single digits midway through the second half, but that was quickly followed by one of Allen’s six three pointers, and the game’s outcome ceased to be in doubt.
Perhaps most impressive was the way the Gators locked down defensively. Other than Jaylon Barford, who matched Allen’s 28, the Razorbacks were completely shut down throughout the night. Florida routinely contested shots, blocking six of them, and never allowed the Hogs to get into a rhythm. On a similarly high note, Florida finally outrebounded an opponent (40-36) and went 19-22 from the free throw line. I do wonder whether Florida can duplicate those successes, but at least we know they’re capable of it.
And yet, all the stats don’t do the meaning of this game justice for Allen. He’s taken a beating from internet warriors for not doing as much as he did last year despite more talent being around him this year, but it’s no secret that he will be counted on if Florida is to make another magical run in the NCAA Tournament this year.
But let’s maybe not look that far ahead quite yet. With Auburn’s loss to Alabama last night in the Iron Bowl of basketball, last night’s win puts Florida at the top of the SEC standings. The Gators’ next game- a road trip to Kentucky’s Rupp Arena- will determine whether or not they both stay and belong there.