by Alan Spector
Junior point guard Chris Ciozza scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to help No.15 Florida escape with a 57-52 victory at Mississippi State.
Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen added 11 points as the Gators (22-5, 12-2 Southeastern Conference) won their eighth straight game.
Sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes contributed nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots will starting in place of injured junior center John Egbunu (knee).
Sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 17 points for the Bulldogs (14-12, 5-9), who lost their fourth straight game and sixth of their last seven.
In other state sports news...
- Pittsburgh took a three-point lead with 8:23 remaining in the first half and never gave it back as the Panthers upset No. 17 Florida State at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt (15-12, 4-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) jumped out to an early 15-point second half lead but allowed Florida State (21-6, 9-5) to come within three points in the second half. But the Panthers reclaimed a double-digit lead with 2:26 remaining in the game, halting Florida State's final comeback attempt.
- Many expected Magic forward Aaron Gordon to be the highlight of the night following last year's dunk contest, but Rockets guard Eric Gordon helped steal the show at NBA All-Star Saturday night in New Orleans. Eric Gordon beat out Cleveland's Kyrie Irving in overtime to win the Three-Point Contest. Aaron Gordon was eliminated after the first round of the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest after his drone-dunk went bad. Indiana's Glenn Robinson III jumped over Pacers teammate Paul George, Indiana's mascot and a cheerleader for his last dunk, slamming the ball behind his head to win the dunk contest. Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis beat out Utah's Gordon Hayward in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. The All-Star Game tips off Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time in New Orleans and will air no TNT.
- Antoine Roussel collected his first hat trick as the Stars beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3 in overtime at Dallas. Jamie Benn's goal with 73 seconds left in the extra-period ended it. The Bolts' Victor Hedman had two goals and an assist.
- Aleksander Barkov, Jussi Jokinen and Jonathan Huberdeau each found the back of the net as Florida topped the Kings, 3-2, at Los Angeles. Florida has won four in a row and seven of its last eight.