Macklin, Walker lifts Florida past Ole Miss 64-61 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Macklin, Walker lifts Florida past Ole Miss 64-61

By Jeff Shepard – bio | email

OXFORD, MS (AP) - Vernon Macklin scored a career-high 22 points and Erving Walker converted six consecutive free throws in the final 41 seconds as Florida defeated Ole Miss 64-61 on Saturday.

The Gators (19-8, 8-4 SEC) earned the edge in a battle of teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Chandler Parsons scored 13 points and Walker added 10 for Florida.

Florida, which trail Eastern Division leaders Kentucky and Vanderbilt, enhanced its NCAA Tournament resume, completing a 6-0 sweep against SEC Western Division teams. The Gators have won four their last six starts and improved to 5-1 in games decided by five points or less.

"Any league win is important, regardless," said Florida coach Billy Donovan, whose team was a season-best 25 of 27 from the free throw line. "What's impressive today is you need to take care of the things you have control over and we did that today."

Terrance Henry led Ole Miss (17-9, 5-7) with 17 points and Chris Warren had 14 points. The Rebels, who were ranked No. 14 in mid-January, have lost five of their last six contests.

Ole Miss held a 56-54 lead with 2:24 left on a three-point shot by Terrico White, but managed only one basket the rest of the way. Florida tied it on a pair of free throws by Parsons, setting up the decisive play.

Florida took a 58-56 lead with 58 seconds left on Kenny Boynton's layup after a steal by Alex Tyus. The Gators closed it out on their final three possessions as Walker converted six free throws.

"You've got to give Walker a lot of credit in the final minute," Donovan said. "We made the free throws and that was the big factor."

Macklin said Florida has concentrated more on improving its free throw shooting while in practice.

"We've been working on free throws," Macklin said. "I was 0 for 5 against Xavier myself, but the last two games we've just made sure we focused and made the shots. This one is big. All road wins are big."

Terrico White missed a potential game-tying 3-point shot at the buzzer.

Florida shot 37 percent from the floor (19-for-52) and 1 of 13 from 3-point range. The Gators did compensate for their woeful shooting by making their foul shots and forcing 15 turnovers.

Ole Miss was 23 of 55 from the field (42 percent) and 6 of 20 from the 3-point line. The Rebels were 9 of 11 from the free throw line and out rebounded Florida 36-30.

"It goes back to our focus or our lack thereof," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "I think that's been the downfall of our team."

      (Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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