Gators still likely to move to No. 1 despite ugly win at Ole Miss

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

For the second straight game Florida was tested and flirted with losing against a far inferior SEC foe.

But for the second straight game the Gators got the dub.

For the second straight game Ole Miss was presented with a beautiful opportunity win on its home floor against a far superior SEC foe.

But for the second straight game the Rebels took a loss.

There's a deep gap between Florida and the rest of the SEC, even if Billy Donovan's team has been presented with a few challenges along the way. By nature of UF's 75-71 at Ole Miss Saturday, the Gators accomplished two things. First, let there be no doubt, this team will run a way with the regular-season league title. Florida's now off to a program-record 14-0 start in league play. This was wrapped up in practicality after UF beat Kentucky last Saturday, but pragmatically and logistically and borderline mathematically it's now a sealed deal.

The second accomplishment the win presented: the likelihood Florida will be No. 1 in the country when Monday's Associated Press poll is released. The Gators were No. 2 this week, only behind Syracuse, which -- no matter what happens at Duke Saturday night -- is certain to fall after that damaging home loss to 7-19 Boston College. Now 7-20 Boston College after the Eagles got taken out 69-42 Saturday afternoon to a mediocre Miami team.

So things are rolling for UF, which had a team-high 18 from Michael Frazier. Marshall Henderson had a game-high 22 points, but they all came in the first half -- and Henderson wound up just 5-of-16 from 3-point range.

Ole Miss, a 16-11 team that was 78th in RPI and 83rd in KenPom entering Saturday, is now in a very bad spot. The team couldn't beat Kentucky on Tuesday and then let an opportunity slip away here. Both of those games being at home is the real stinger. Ole Miss is a 4-6 road team this year with two away-from-home tilts still remaining.

And with no games left on the schedule against the best teams in the SEC -- Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee -- it'll likely need to make a run to the league's championship game in order to get back into the conversation.

Florida's Michael Frazier defends Jarvis Summers' shot.  (USATSI)
Florida's Michael Frazier defends Jarvis Summers' shot. (USATSI)
 
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