<
>

SEC recount? Florida, not Kentucky, looks like league's best after Gonzaga win

play
Florida tops Gonzaga in double overtime (2:01)

Jalen Hudson makes 8-of-12 attempts from 3-point territory and scores 35 points as No. 7 Florida beats No. 17 Gonzaga 111-105. (2:01)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kentucky was named the preseason favorite to win the SEC.

After Friday's win over Gonzaga, Florida has a right to request a recount.

Mike White's squad's 111-105 double-overtime win over Gonzaga on Friday in the PK80 showed the Gators at their best. They're an impeccable small-ball threat with shooters scattered throughout their roster. And big man John Egbunu (7.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game) is set to return in January.

Without him, Florida scored 108 points in a win over Stanford in the first round of the tournament. On Friday, the Gators topped a Gonzaga squad that played in front a favorable crowd and featured a career effort by Johnathan Williams (39 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks).

But Florida had Jalen Hudson, who scored 35 points and finished 8-for-12 from the 3-point line, and Chris Chiozza (26 points). The team made 17 3-pointers in the double-overtime win.

Florida, an Elite Eight team last season, failed to collect the preseason buzz enjoyed by Kentucky, which boasted ESPN.com's No. 2 incoming class.

Chiozza said the Gators aren't focused on preseason polls, but the team does have a sign in its locker room from a publication that picked the Gators to end the season as the SEC's most disappointing squad.

"We don't really pay too much attention to stuff like that," he said after Thursday's win over Stanford. "Any time they pick a team over you, it gives you a little chip on your shoulder."

In the second overtime of the greatest game this season, Chiozza hit a 3-pointer that drained the energy at the Moda Center in Portland.

He then ran down the court dragging three fingers along the floor, gazing at the pro-Gonzaga crowd.

The Gators battled the Bulldogs on a court just five hours from Spokane, Washington. Every positive moment for the Bulldogs turned the Moda Center into an explosive, favorable environment for Gonzaga.

The crowd roared for 40-plus minutes. The two teams traded leads in the exciting affair until a late burst of 3-pointers and free throws in the second overtime sealed the win for Florida.

Its win over Gonzaga, last season's national runner-up, followed a 108-point effort against Stanford in the first round of the tournament.

No team in Portland has looked better than Florida, which will face Duke on Sunday.

But Kentucky entered the season with another fleet of five-star prospects. And whenever Kentucky starts a season with multiple future pros, it's always smart to pick the Wildcats to do great things.

Florida, however, fought off a team that had a shot to win the national title last season, a Gonzaga group that appears to be good enough to make another run.

On Friday, the Gators ignored the crowd and matched every Gonzaga shot until they pulled away in the second overtime. It was the best game of a tournament that featured an overtime bout between Duke and Texas earlier in the day.

The Gators also ended Friday's game with a statement victory no team in the SEC (and beyond) should dismiss.

They're one of the best teams in America. Again.