Florida Falls in SEC Opener at No. 15 Mississippi State

Box Score | Highlights 

The University of Florida women’s basketball team (9-5, 0-1) fell 93-47 in its conference opener Thursday evening at No. 15 Mississippi State inside Humphrey Coliseum in front of 7,427 fans.

Despite 15 points from freshman standout Lavender Briggs and 15 via Kiki Smith, Florida came up short against the 13-2 Bulldogs.

Briggs, tallying 10 or more points for the 12th-straight game – the longest such streak by a Florida player since 2006-07, scored 15 or more for the sixth time this year.

Opening its conference slate away from home for the third-straight season, Florida ran into a buzz saw early as the Bulldogs shot 72.2 percent from the floor in the opening quarter and the Gators could never recover.

Going up against its third AP Top 25 foe and in one of the nation’s most-challenging environments, the Gators fell on the road for the second time this season.

The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 84.2 points per game and scored over 80 points for the ninth time this season.

For Smith Thursday marked her 11th time with a double-figure point total, matching her output from all of the 2018-19 campaign.

The Bulldogs connected on six of their first nine shots to open the game and at a point made six-straight. MSU closed the period on an 11-1 run and led 27-12 at the end of the first. Smith led Florida with five points in the opening stanza as the Gators hung tough against a Bulldog unit that shot at remarkable rate to begin the game.

MSU scored the first 17 points of the second quarter and padded its lead as the Gators endured a lengthy scoreless spell. The Bulldogs held a 55-24 advantage heading into the intermission as their efficient offensive production carried on. The Gators scored just four points over the course of the first five minutes of the frame, but found some offensive success as the period progressed utilizing a 6-0 run late. Briggs checked in with 10 and Smith eight to lead the way for the Gators.

The Bulldogs started 15 of 20 from the floor while Florida made of five of its first 20 attempts. MSU shot a crisp 23-of-36 from the floor and saw two score 10 or more points in the first half. Freshman Rickea Jackson tallied 16 points in the first 20 minutes.

Smith scored six of UF’s first seven second half points as the Gators continue to find their offensive flow. Mississippi State owned a 22-14 advantage in the third as it connected on nine of its 13 shots.

In the fourth MSU held a 16-9 edge and concluded the game on an 11-1 run.

Taking on the nation’s No. 7 offense, Florida dropped what was its third-straight SEC opener played away from home.

Jordan Danberry (21) and Jackson (20) paced Mississippi State.

Florida returns home to host its 2019-20 SEC home opener Sunday, Jan. 5 against Vanderbilt. The matchup will air nationally on ESPNU and will tip at Noon ET. For ticket information, click here. All fans with a ticket from the men’s basketball game vs. Alabama will receive free admission to the game. In addition, there will be a speed painter halftime act and Sunday Sundaes following the contest.

UP NEXT
Sunday, Jan. 5 | Noon ET
Florida (9-5, 0-1) vs. Vanderbilt (11-3, 1-0)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
ESPNU

QUOTABLES
Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Overall thoughts on game…
“That’s SEC basketball, that’s one of the best teams in the league. We have a lot of players that have never seen that and we tried to prepare them for it. It’s tough to simulate a team like that. It’s part of the learning process for our team. I think we got better as the game went on and got tougher at times. But still we need more toughness and need more resolve. The good thing is that we have 15 conference games left and that’s one of the top two teams in the league. We only play them once so it’s good to get this road game finished and learn from it and move on to prepare for Vanderbilt on Sunday.”

“They have a lot of people out there that can put points on the board and lot of players on defense that can disrupt you and cause problems. Defensively it’s tough because they keep coming at you. They’re a darn good team.”

On the team’s fight in the second half…
“We got frustrated in the second quarter when things really didn’t go our way and came together at half and talked about our effort. We talked about how we weren’t fighting hard enough and how it wasn’t about this game. It’s for what’s next. You can’t play the scoreboard. You have to play the moment and stick together. That’s all part of the learning and growth process that we have to keep fighting through. This is tough, it stings and it should.”

NOTABLES

·         Lavender Briggs extended her double-figure scoring streak to 12 games, the longest streak by a Florida player since the 2006-07 season.

·         Florida falls to 19-23 all time in SEC openers.

·         Mississippi State improves to 113-16 at home under Vic Shaeffer.

·         Emanuely de Oliveira scored her first points of the season, adding four in a season-high 19 minutes.

·         Mississippi State tallied 50 points in the paints, the most Florida has allowed this season.

·         Florida held a 10-6 edge in second half points.

·         Zada Williams (6) led Florida in rebounding for the eighth time this season.

 
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