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Curtis, Mississippi hold off Florida

Jan 17, 2008 - 5:57 AM OXFORD, Mississippi (Ticker) -- Mississippi's offensive attack was just enough to hold off Florida.

Dwayne Curtis had 20 points and 12 rebounds and freshman Trevor Gaskins scored 15 of his 19 in the second half as No. 15 Mississippi held on for its second straight Southeastern Conference victory, 89-87, over Florida on Wednesday.

Curtis and Gaskins combined to shoot 14-of-18 from the field but it was the freshman that came up big, scoring in double figures for the first time in eight games.

"Trevor (Gaskins) was huge and we needed that tonight," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "We were struggling with some of our starters not making shots at a regular rate. He stepped up big for us offensively. Not only the number of shots, but the timing of those shots was huge."

Eniel Polynice chipped in 14 points for the Rebels, who topped the 80-point mark for the 11th time this season. The points were the most the Gators, who came into the game allowing 61.5 points per game, have given up this season.

The Rebels (15-1, 2-1 SEC West) led throughout the second half, including by as many as 16 before the Gators rallied.

Florida (15-3, 2-1 East) still trailed by 11 with under four minutes to play but went on a 16-7 run - capped by a 3-pointer by freshman Chandler Parsons - to cut the deficit to 84-82 with 35 seconds to play.

"Our guys battled and fought until the end," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Ole Miss is one of the better rebounding teams in the SEC. We had a difficult time trying to contain Dwayne Curtis in the post. Ole Miss' size and strength worked to their advantage."

But Curtis made a pair of free throws for Mississippi and the Rebels caused a turnover on Florida's next possession. Polynice then converted two shots from the stripe to give Mississippi a six-point lead with 16 seconds remaining.

For the game, the Rebels shot 54 percent (33-of-61) from the field but just 16-of-27 from the foul line. Despite the struggles from the stripe, Mississippi snapped a six-game losing streak against the Gators.

"We've hurt ourselves from the foul line all season and it continues to be a problem," Kennedy said. "We don't look confident from the foul line. We consistently missed free throws and still beat a good Florida team. That tells me we have a chance."

After trailing by seven points early on, Mississippi stormed back with a 19-1 run to take a 23-12 bulge with 11:13 left in the first half. Florida missed eight consecutive shots and Mississippi was 8-of-11 from the field during that stretch.

The Rebels maintained at least a nine-point lead for the rest of the half and held a 43-34 advantage at the break after the Gators scored the final six points of the first.

The Rebels took their largest lead at 59-43 with 12:42 left after Gaskins capped a 10-3 spurt with eight straight points.

But the Gators came back with an 11-0 run - keyed by eight points from Parsons - to cut the deficit to 59-54 with 10:19 to play.

Mississippi built its lead back up to 11 points but Florida again responded, cutting the deficit to 77-72 with 3:14 remaining.

Dan Werner had 16 points and nine rebounds and freshman Nick Calathes added 16 and seven to lead Florida, which made just six of its last 29 attempts from the arc after starting out 3-of-4 in the first three minutes.

"We got off to a great start by knocking down some big 3's, but we got 'three-happy' and Ole Miss was able to get back in the game and take control," Donovan said. "The 3-point line was fool's gold for us after the fast start."

Parsons finished with 15 for the Gators, who shot just 10-of-19 from the free-throw line.