The Florida Gators are no longer a bubble team. The Gators proved they were for real with an impressive 88-71 victory over No. 9 West Virginia in Gainesville, Fla. Saturday afternoon.
Florida (14-7, 5-3 SEC) dominated the action from the opening tip and secured the program’s first victory over a ranked opponent of the Mike White era. It was also Florida’s first win over a top- 10 opponent since the Gators knocked off No. 10 Kentucky on Feb. 5, 2011. White said the score may be deceiving, but he isn’t complaining about the way things went on Saturday.
“We’re obviously not 17 points better than West Virginia … we’ll take it,” White said according to The Independent Florida Alligator’s Alex Maminakis. “No way in my mind did I think we would score 88 points against West Virginia.”
The Gators entered Saturday’s contest ranked 12th in the SEC in 3-point shooting (31.8 percent), but it was raining threes inside the O’Connell Center. Florida went 12 -of -20 from 3-point land during their fourth-best offensive performance of the season. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was clearly flabbergasted by Florida’s suddenly superb shooting.
“The way it was going in, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Mike (White) hit one,” Huggins said according to The Independent Florida Alligator’s Ian Cohen.
Not much was expected from these Gators after finishing 16-17 a year ago and losing legendary coach Billy Donovan to the NBA. White has helped turn a team that was perceived as rebuilding into a team that will enter February safely in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Right now, the Gators are capable of making a run to the NCAA Tournament.