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Feb 2, 2024 6:17 pm

Suddenly hot Florida seeks fifth straight win, meets Texas A&M

Florida is getting hot at the right time and will take a four-game winning streak into College Station, Texas, for a Southeastern Conference matchup with Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon.

The Gators (15-6, 5-3 SEC) are coming off an overtime win at Kentucky and have put themselves in the talk for NCAA Tournament consideration since getting drubbed 85-66 at Tennessee on Jan. 16.

“We’re making strides, heading in the right direction, and have the right guys in the program,” Florida coach Todd Golden said. “We’re just really excited to see where the rest of the year goes.”

The Gators got their first Quadrant 1 win with a gritty comeback at Kentucky. Taking advantage of a missed free throw by Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham with 13.5 seconds left in regulation, Walter Clayton Jr. buried a 3-pointer with three seconds left in regulation to force overtime and then hit another in the extra period to spark Florida’s 94-91 win.

Clayton ended up with 23 points and made a career-best seven 3-pointers (in 13 attempts). The win avenged Florida’s earlier 87-85 loss to Kentucky in Gainesville.

“We’ve been knocking on the door for a win like this,” Golden said. “This team is really coming together at the right time.”

Texas A&M (12-8, 3-4) has gone only 2-2 since posting a 97-92 overtime win over Kentucky at home Jan. 13.

Coach Buzz Williams cited woes at the free-throw line as one issue the Aggies are facing. They have topped 70 percent from the stripe only once in their past five games and were only 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) and lost 71-68 to Ole Miss their last outing despite Wade Taylor IV’s fifth 30-point game of the season. He was 10-of-20 from the field (5-of-9 on 3-pointers) but only 5-of-8 on free-throw attempts.

“We need to shoot a higher percentage from the free-throw line,” Williams said. “We are committed to doing that. We’ve been working on that every day as a team and individually. Our guys have been great in that regard.”

–Field Level Media

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