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Gators topple Mountaineers, boost NCAA Tournament résumé

GAINESVILLE -- Florida eviscerated No. 9 West Virginia 88-71 in a sold-out O’Connell Center on Saturday afternoon, giving new coach Mike White his first signature win. The Gators' dominating victory in the BIG12/SEC Challenge is suddenly the gold star on UF’s NCAA Tournament résumé.

Some notable postgame musings…

“Tonight was one of those nights were we put it all together. … Sometimes it [just] comes down to making shots.” 

“I’m extremely proud. We’ve come a long way as a team. Not that we’ve arrived. We’ve got a ways to go, but I asked our team after the game if we are a tougher team and a better team than we were two months ago and the answer was a resounding, ‘Yes.’" — UF coach Mike White 

“This we a game we needed. We felt like we can play with any team in the country and today we showed it.” — UF point guard Chris Chiozza

“They shot 60 percent from three, which they haven't done and we haven't given up. ... The way it was going in, I was surprised Mike [White] didn’t hit one.” — WVU coach Bob Huggins

“We needed a big win. … We needed one to let us know we could do it. We showed each other what we’re capable of.” — UF forward Dorian Finney-Smith


Finney-Smith (24 points, five rebounds and three assists) topped the 20-point mark for the third time in four games. … UF went 12 of 20 from behind the arc against the nation’s best 3-point defense. … The Gators got valuable minutes from their bench Saturday, as little-used backups Brandone Francis-Ramirez (9 points) and Schuyler Rimmer (2 points, 6 rebounds) played well, particularly to end the first half (9-0 run by UF). Francis-Ramirez was 3 of 3 from downtown after hitting just one of his last 23 attempts from 3-point range. … Florida’s largest lead was 21 points and it never trailed. … The Gators are now 1-4 against ranked foes in 2015-16. ... The two teams combined for 48 fouls and 47 free throws.

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