Wilbekin steals the show

Wilbekin steals the show

On the court of the O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon, there were two starting point guards — one of the most decorated point guards in college basketball, and the other, a junior that's in his first year of starting. The roles looked reverse Saturday. Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin had his first double-double of the year while locking down preseason SEC player of the year Phil Pressey.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan admitted that he enjoyed watching some of Phil Pressey's film while preparing for Saturday's game. Donovan's team turned Saturday into a nightmare for Pressey.

The Missouri point guard scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting, adding six assists and a season-high ten turnovers.

"This is one where I'm sure Phil will just want to get to the next one," Missouri head coach Frank Haith said.

Pressey looked caught off guard by the Florida press, which came out swinging from the opening tipoff. The Gators broke to a 15-2 lead to start the game while getting after Pressey in the backcourt and forcing Missouri to handle the press that has been successful for the Gators this year.

Pressey couldn't.

Missouri guard Keion Bell even admitted after the game that the tenacity of the Florida press was a surprise to the Tigers. It looked like it for Pressey.

Looking back, it shouldn't have been as much of a surprise. Florida junior Scottie Wilbekin has a history of slowing momentum. Just Thursday night, Wilbekin shut down Texas A&M guard Elston Turner for four points after his 40-point outburst at Kentucky. Sixteen games into the impressive season Pressey has put together, Wilbekin shut him down.

"We know Scottie is going to be really good, but maybe some people didn't," Florida forward Will Yegetue said with a laugh.

It's a challenge Wilbekin enjoys. The headlines about an elite scorer on the other team only help him focus more on the task. When the Gators checked into the team hotel on Friday night, that's where Wilbekin's mind was — the All-American on the other side of the court.

"He's a great player," Scottie Wilbekin said. "The best… one of the best in the SEC. It was great going up against him. I like that competition like that."

Wilbekin wouldn't have any of the praise, though. He didn't want the credit for holding Pressey to a season low in points and a season high in turnovers. He gave it to the big men.

To get Pressey in the open floor to make plays, Missouri will use its big men to set screens at the top of the key to give Pressey some open floor to either score or find an open man. To counteract that, the Florida big men had to be prepared. Yeguete and Patric Young were effective at it on Saturday.

"It's not just me," Wilbekin said after Florida scored 22 of its 40 first-half points off turnovers. "When I'm guarding guys on the pick and roll, Pat and Will are one of the best in the NCAA at hedging on screens and giving me help if I get beat. It's not just me. It's them on the help side. "

The defense has always been there for Wilbekin. That's all he was asked to do as a freshman at Florida when he played sparingly off the Florida bench. As he spent more time on the floor as a sophomore and early in his junior year, the offensive game has come on this season.

Wilbekin posted his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. He was efficient, shooting 6-for-8 from the field while also recoding three steals and three rebounds.

"Tonight, he had a great performance offensively and defensively," senior guard Kenny Boynton said about Wilbekin. "He forced Pressey into a lot of turnovers. You can see from a year that he has gotten a lot better offensively.

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