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Gators hang on to beat Cowboys, 72-70

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The Florida Gators built a 10-point lead over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday, and then hung on for an exciting 72-70 win in the Orange Bowl Classic at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. The Gator offense is often criticized much like the football team, but had just enough to edge the Cowboys from the Big 12.

After the Cowboys took an early 8-point lead, Florida tied the game at 20 on a Dorian Finney-Smith jumper. The lead see-sawed back and forth until the Gators finally took a 35-34 halftime lead.

With the score tied at 51, Finney-Smith drilled a three-pointer that sent Florida on an 11-1 run that gave the Gators a 62-52 lead with 7:13 remaining. The Cowboys would cut the lead to 66-64 on a three-pointer by Jeff Newberry with four minutes left.

Finney-Smith responded with a three to restore the lead to 5 and the Cowboys never had the ball again with a chance to tie or take the lead. A three-pointer by Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans with two seconds remaining provided the final margin.

Finney-Smith led the Gators with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Devin Robinson had 13 with both Chris Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen adding 11.

Evans led the Cowboys with 17 points. Leyton Hammonds and Newberry each scored 14.

The Gators shot 43 percent from the field, but were dreadful at the foul line. Florida made only 12 of 26 free throws, which helped keep the Cowboys close.

Oklahoma State shot 41 percent from the field and made 16 of 22 free throws. They committed 14 turnovers to only 7 for Florida. Florida scored 21 points off those turnovers.

Florida (7-3) hosts the Jacksonville Dolphins on Tuesday night at the O’Connell Center.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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