GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Late in the second half, backup Florida guard Chris Chiozza whispered to coach Mike White that he needed to get him back in the game.
His reasoning? Chiozza said he was going to get a triple-double.
“I said, `No, you’re not. Come on,”‘ White said.
Chiozza convinced White he was close enough to make it happen, so the coach let him play the rest of the way. And the junior ended up with the first triple-double of his career — finishing with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists — as No. 24 Florida dominated woeful Missouri 93-54 on Thursday night.
Chiozza joined the exclusive club when he dished to Devin Robinson for a 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining. Equally impressive: The Gators (17-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) tied a school record by winning their third consecutive game by at least 30 points.
Coming off lopsided victories at LSU and at Oklahoma, Florida wasted no time putting Mizzou in a huge hole. The Gators led 12-2, 18-3, 30-6 and 48-18 in the first half while building a 31-13 rebounding advantage. White’s team did little wrong for the third straight outing and looked more than ready for No. 8 Kentucky on Saturday night.
The only suspense was whether Chiozza would join Nick Calathes and Corey Brewer in Florida’s recent triple-double club. Calathes and Brewer are the only Florida players to accomplish the feat since 1997.
“It means a lot,” Chiozza said. “I’m glad that I achieved that, but I’m happier that we got the W. That’s the most important thing.”
Canyon Barry led Florida with 17 points. KeVaughn Allen added 15, and Kasey Hill chipped in 11.
Terrence Phillips had 14 points for Missouri (5-16, 0-9), which reached the halfway point to SEC futility.
Mizzou lost its 13th in a row — tying the longest streak in program history — and its 14th straight in league play. The Tigers also lost their 31st consecutive road game.
“They came out and completely outmatched us,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “They got every rebound, made every shot. It was kind of like getting hit by a train.”
Missouri: The Tigers have a young team that includes six sophomores and four freshmen — and remain on NCAA probation — but what they did at Florida has to be concerning for Anderson and his future. They were overmatched from the start and showed little, if any, fight after digging a huge hole.
“We didn’t even jump on the (opening) tip,” Anderson said. “I should have known then.”
Florida: The Gators are winless in three games against ranked teams (Gonzaga, Duke and South Carolina), so Saturday’s game against the Wildcats is an important one for a team looking to build its NCAA Tournament resume and potentially earn a top-four seed and open the bracket in nearby Orlando.
Missouri has lost five of its last six by double digits, a potential sign that Anderson’s miserable season could be on the verge of unraveling. Could the Tigers go 0-18 in league play? The last team to do so was Georgia Tech in 1953-54, so it would be rare. But given the way the Tigers played Thursday, it certainly seems like a possibility.
White will get a better feel for his team against Kentucky. The Gators had a lengthy team meeting after losing to Vanderbilt in Gainesville on Jan. 21 and have been on a tear since.
The last time they won three in a row by 30 points was in 2006, but those came against Western Kentucky, Prairie View and Chattanooga — and with help from three future NBA lottery picks who won back-to-back national championships. Al Horford, Brewer and Joakim Noah also helped Florida accomplish the feat in 2004 against Sam Houston State, Eastern Kentucky and Georgia Southern.
Missouri hosts Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers’ conference losing streak started against the Razorbacks nearly a year ago.
Florida hosts Kentucky on Saturday, a game that will be featured on ESPN’s College GameDay.
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