Will Richard, Florida push past misfiring Mississippi State

Will Richard put up 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Florida defeated cold-shooting Mississippi State 79-70 on Wednesday night at Gainesville, Fla.

Zyon Pullin’s 15 points, Walter Clayton Jr.’s 15 points and Tyrese Samuel’s 12 points helped boost Florida (13-6, 3-3 Southeastern Conference), which has notched back-to-back victories. The Gators committed only seven turnovers, helping make up for 42.2 percent shooting from the field.

Josh Hubbard pumped in 26 points with five 3-pointers off the bench for Mississippi State (13-6, 2-4), which has lost three of its past four games. Tolu Smith III added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Neither team shot well from the outside, but the perimeter woes were more extreme for the Bulldogs. Even with 22 offensive rebounds, they couldn’t make up for shooting 38.7 percent, including 8-for-33 (24.2 percent) from 3-point range. Mississippi State’s Cameron Matthews collected 11 boards.

Richard hit three first-half 3-pointers on his way to 18 points before the break, and the Gators went into the locker room up 43-34.

The Bulldogs managed only six points in the first seven-plus minutes of the second half as Florida expanded its lead to 56-40. Hubbard could do only so much to keep Mississippi State in range.

But the Gators stalled after going up 66-49 at the 7:22 mark. They scored only on a 3-pointer from Richard across a span of almost six minutes.

Smith’s dunk followed by two Hubbard free throws made it 69-63 with more than three minutes to play.

Florida got it back under control with two free throws by Alex Condon followed by missed shots by the Bulldogs on their next two possessions.

Mississippi State took seven 3-point attempts in the game’s first six minutes and missed them all, yet led 6-4.

Pullin scored seven of Florida’s first eight points but picked up two fouls in the first nine minutes and scored only two more points in the first half.

The Bulldogs were aided by offensive rebounding, but they shot 4-for-16 on 3-point attempts in the opening half.