Chiozza leads UF to blowout win over Baylor at the O’Dome

Chris Chiozza torched Baylor for 20 points, six rebounds, two steals and six assists compared to only one turnover in an 81-60 Florida win as a seven-point home favorite.

Published on Sunday, 1/28/17, at 1:15 a.m. Eastern.

Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza is building a case to be the SEC’s Player of the Year. Chiozza scored 20 points, including 13 in a row late in the second half, to lead UF past Baylor, 81-60. Mike White’s team took the money as a seven-point home favorite, while the 141 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 140-point total.

Baylor’s Tristan Clark made a layup with 43 seconds left to make it 79-60 for 139 combined points. Wagers on the total would come down to UF’s final possession, and Gorjok Gak hit a jumper with 13 ticks left to beat ‘under’ bettors.

The Bears cut a 12-point intermission deficit down to nine with 17:27 remaining, but Chiozza’s layup 15 seconds later put UF back in front by double digits to stay. The lead ballooned up to 23 at one point.

Egor Koulechov drained three 3-pointers in the first five minutes, setting the tone for his team to hit 14-of-25 attempts from beyond the arc. Chiozza nailed 4-of-7 launches from downtown and contributed six rebounds, two steals and six assists compared to just one turnover. Jalen Hudson scored 17 points, while Koulechov finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Kevarrius Hayes protected the rim with five blocked shots.

John Egbunu dressed out for the first time this season and went through pregame warmups for a second straight game. He tore his ACL in a Valentine’s Day win at Auburn last year. His return in the next week or two appears likely and if he’s able to be close to 100 percent by early March, the Gators will able to address their only weakness — a lack of size, muscle and depth in what legendary coach and color analyst Hubie Browns calls ‘the painted area.’

UF improved to 15-6 overall. The Gators bounced back from Wednesday’s home loss to South Carolina to collect their 9th victory over an RPI Top-100 opponent. They’re now No. 21 at with a trip to Stegeman Coliseum to face slumping Georgia on deck Tuesday night in Athens. UF will host Alabama next Saturday.

Collin Sexton outplayed Trae Young in a battle between future lottery picks, as Alabama used a 13-0 second-half run to propel it to an 80-73 home win in a pick ’em affair.

Speaking of Avery Johnson’s team, it beat Oklahoma 80-73 in a pick ‘em affair at Coleman Coliseum. This is the biggest win of Johnson’s three-year tenure, one that’ll go a long way toward securing the school’s first NCAA Tournament invite since 2012.

Collin Sexton was the catalyst, returning to form with an 18-point effort. He made 8-of-14 shots and played a large role defensively in holding OU freshman star Trae Young to his lowest scoring total (17) since the Sooners’ season opener. Johnson ran multiple defenders at Young like Sexton and Herb Jones, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot.

Alabama rotated fresh and athletic defenders on OU star Trae Young, the nation’s leader in scoring and assists who finished with only 17 points, his lowest scoring effort since the Sooners’ season opener.

Young had eight assists and committed five turnovers. He went 6-of-17 from the field and made 4-of-9 treys. Young, who was held to only five points in the first half, buried a stepback 3-pointer from NBA range to give OU a 60-55 lead with 11 minutes remaining. However, the Tide answered with a 13-0 run and were in control to the finish from there.

With Tennessee winning easily over Iowa St. in Ames, Arkansas slipping past Oklahoma St. in Fayetteville, a Vandy upset victory over TCU in Music City and Kentucky’s huge rally to win at West Virginia, and you have the SEC winning the Big 12/SEC Challenge for the first time.

The event started during the 2013-2014 season with the Big 12 entering this year with a 25-15 advantage overall. The SEC’s best previous year was last season when the conferences battled to a 5-5 stalemate.

Kevin Knox erupted for a career-best 34 points to spark Kentucky to an 83-76 win at West Virginia as a 10.5-point underdog. The Wildcats cashed monster money-line tickets for a +425 return (gamblers paid $425 on $100 wagers).

Finally, how about this factoid from Saturday: It was the first time Duke and North Carolina both lost at home on the same day since 1973. Virginia got a massive 3-pointer from Ty Jerome at crunch time and a pair of clutch free throws from Kyle Guy to improve to 20-1 overall with its 65-63 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

North Carolina  St. won 95-91 at UNC in overtime as a 12.5-point underdog. The Wolfpack won outright to hook up money-line supporters with an enormous +650 payout (paid $650 on $100 bets).

My picks went 5-0 on Saturday, as I cashed with Georgia +8 at Kansas St., the UGA-KSU ‘under’ 133, the Cincy-Memphis ‘under and Nebraska’s lopsided home win over Iowa in Lincoln. I also had the Mavs as eight-point underdogs in a 91-89 loss at Denver in NBA action. Dallas is now 16-4-1 ATS in its past 21 games as an underdog.

In my four winners in college, the victories beat the number by a combined 59.5 points. I’ve already got a pair of plays loaded up for Sunday (might add 1-2 more late Sunday morning or early afternoon).

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