By The Associated Press
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons each scored 20 points to lead Florida to a 69-62 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.
Florida (17-6, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak in the series. The Gators’ last victory over the Bulldogs came Jan. 24, 2007.
Mississippi State (16-7, 4-4) has lost four of its last five games.
Ravern Johnson finished with 20 points and Jarvis Varnado added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Mississippi State.
Florida had a 12-point lead with 2:38 to play, but struggled to close out the game.
The Bulldogs scored seven unanswered points to cut the lead to 61-56. Johnson and Barry Stewart each hit 3-pointers in the final minute, cutting Florida’s lead to 66-62 with 22.4 seconds to play.
Parsons and Erving Walker combined to hit three free throws to close out the final seconds.
Florida had one of its worst shooting games of the season, making just 40.3 percent from the field. That included a 3-for-17 performance from the 3-point line. Walker and Kenny Boynton combined to go 1-for-13 from beyond the arc.
Walker, Boynton and Alex Tyus combined to make just 7 of 35 shots from the field. Parsons and Macklin combined to go 15 for 22.
Macklin scored Florida’s first 10 points of the second half, most of them coming in the post against Varnado, who is rapidly approaching the NCAA career record for blocked shots.
Varnado had just one on Saturday — his fewest in any game this season — which leaves him 25 shy of former Louisiana-Monroe standout Wojciech Mydra’s mark of 535.
Mississippi State struggled from the field as well. The Bulldogs shot 38.3 percent from the field and made just 8 of 23 from 3-point range. Stewart and Johnson combined to go 6-for-12.