STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Seventh-ranked Florida proved too much for Mississippi State Saturday night. The Gators built an early lead and cruised to an 82-47 Southeastern Conference victory at the Humphrey Coliseum.
Florida improved to (16-2) overall and (6-0) in league play, while MSU dropped its fourth straight and fell to (7-11, 2-4 SEC).
"I thought our guys did a poor job of trying to run with Florida," MSU head coach Rick Ray said. "We talked about trying to limit their possessions, but when you get a rebound and throw up a quick shot you're not going to have success against a team as good as Florida. They are by far the best team in the country. I don't think anyone in the country is playing as good as they are now."
The Gators opened a double-digit lead with a 10-0 run in the early stages of the first half. Back-to-back 3-point baskets by Kenny Boynton and Michael Frazier allowed the Gators to open a 20-6 advantage.
A follow-up 11-0 run allowed Florida to build a 31-8 advantage with 8:31 left in the half. A steal by Will Yeguete led to a layup by Scottie Wilbekin.
The Bulldogs closed within 31-15 when Fred Thomas was fouled on a 3-point shot attempt. Thomas hit all three free throws.
Florida shot 48.4 percent from the field in the opening half and led 41-19 at halftime. It marked the fourth time this season MSU allowed 40 or more points in the first half of a game.
After a layup by MSU's Gavin Ware opened the second half scoring, Florida answered with the game's next 15 points. The lead would grow to as many as 36.
"Our post guys are just doing a bad job of keeping the ball out of the post," Ray said. "When you are playing a potent offense like Florida, the best way to stop having to help in the post is preventing the ball from getting into the post."
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 17 of 52 shots from the field (32.7 percent), 3 of 15 shots from 3-point range (20.0 percent) and 10 of 15 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Gators hit 31 of 56 shots from the field (55.4 percent), 14 of 31 shots from 3-point range (45.2 percent) and 6 of 9 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).
Florida held a 44-20 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had eight assists and a season-low 10 turnovers, while the Gators had 23 assists and 14 turnovers.
Thomas led the Bulldogs with a career-high 19 points. Colin Borchert and Ware each added 10 points. For Borchert, his point total was the largest in a conference game this season. Thomas also had seven steals, which is the second most in a game in MSU history.
Florida placed four players in double figures. Boynton and Erik Murphy each had 18 points, while Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin each added 13 points.
MSU resumes its three-game homestand with Texas A&M at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Comcast Sports Southeast) and LSU at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Fox Sports Net South).
"The next two ballgames for us are important," Ray said. "We have the next two at home and they are against teams that we should be competitive against. LSU and Texas A&M are quality ballclubs, but with us at home we should have some enthusiasm. We need to try and make a homestand in these next two games."