The game looked every bit like a matchup of the Southeastern Conference’s best and worst teams.
Then again, it wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the 35-point beatdown the Gators handed the Bulldogs on their home court two weeks ago.
Casey Prather, playing in place of injured forward Will Yeguete, chipped in 12 points and five rebounds. Yeguete had arthroscopic surgery Friday to remove loose bodies in his right knee and will miss at least the rest of the regular season.
The Gators (19-3, 9-1 SEC) went 4-5 without him last season, but looked much better against the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State (7-15, 2-8) played without guard Jalen Steele, who didn’t make the trip after being suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.
It was a big blow for a team already down three players.
Freshmen Andre Applewhite and Jacoby Davis are out for the season with knee injuries, and senior Wendell Lewis is sidelined with a fractured right patella.
So the Bulldogs came to Gainesville with six scholarship players and two walk-ons, not exactly the ideal roster to upset the league’s highest-ranked team.
The scoreboard proved it.
Gavin Ware led the Bulldogs with 16 points, Colin Borchert added 14 and Trivante Bloodman chipped in 10.
Florida took a double-digit lead midway through the first half. Michael Frazier II had a lot to do with it, hitting his first three 3-pointers. He finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists.
The Gators made it 36-18 on Murphy’s baseline hook shot with 4:27 remaining before halftime. Murphy finished 7-of-10 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. It was a stark contrast to his last game, a 2-for-7 performance against the Razorbacks.
The game really got lopsided after the break.
Florida, which led 42-26 after 20 minutes, scored the first 10 points of the second half. Scottie Wilbekin hit a 3, Kenny Boynton made a layup, Rosario hit a pull-up jumper and Murphy drained another from behind the arc.
Everything went right for the Gators.
It was the complete opposite of what happened Tuesday night at Arkansas.
Pat Young picked up two early fouls, Yeguete injured his knee, Murphy struggled shooting and turned the ball over four times, and Wilbekin took 15 shots for the second consecutive game.
Throw in Arkansas’ hot-shooting start, and the Gators trailed by 20 points in the early going and never recovered.
On Saturday, they looked much more like the team that won 10 straight before that 80-69 loss to the Razorbacks.
Nonetheless, the Gators are expected to drop in the next Associated Press poll released Monday. At No. 2, it was the program’s highest ranking since holding the top spot in 2007.