It wasn't pretty, but Florida Basketball kept the train on the tracks vs Missouri

Despite Walter Clayton fouling out with over ten minutes to play, the Gators were able to keep it together

Feb 28, 2024; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Missouri Tigers guard Tamar Bates (2) defends Florida
Feb 28, 2024; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Missouri Tigers guard Tamar Bates (2) defends Florida / Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The theme for Florida Basketball all season has been to build an early lead, only to have to hang on for dear life as they struggle to deliver the kill shot to their opponents. It doesn't matter if the opponent is ranked or not, the Gators have continued to play tight games down the stretch.

But more times than not, they have been able to close it out, and despite it feeling like it was 8 vs 5 sometimes, Florida was able to maintain its composure to pull away from Missouri for an 83-74 victory to move to 20-8 on the season.

Florida Basketball: I Think I've Seen This Film Before

Stop us if you have seen this story play out for the Gators in 2024; Florida had a nine-point halftime lead only for it to disappear, as well as a 10-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game, only for it to go away as well.

But alas with 5:30 left, Florida was clinging to a one-point lead over a team that hasn't won a game in the SEC this season.

The pathway of why Missouri was so close was a bit different this time around.

With 14:08 left in the game, Missouri had a fast break, and Walter Clayton took his fourth foul of the game. Not great, but with some carefulness, it wasn't a backbreaker, as the Gators were still up nine.

Except Clayton was then given a technical foul for using "Bad language towards the bench," according to Todd Golden, and it was Clayton's fifth and final foul.

Enter Tyrese Samuel and Zyon Pullin to prevent a disaster in Gainesville. Pullin was quiet in the first half, but poured it on in the second to finish with 23 points. Samuel meanwhile had a career-high 28 points.

Together, they scored 23 of Florida's final 25 points.

With Missouri still within four points with 2:30 left, Samuel hit a jumper, Pullin hit a jumper, and Samuel made a three-point play layup to put Florida up by nine with 1:10 to quell the comeback attempt by Missouri

The win won't move the needle for Florida, given everybody has beaten up on Missouri this season, but it does virtually solidify Florida's spot in March Madness with three games to play. The Gators have two Quad 1 opportunities against South Carolina and Alabama, along with one final pothole game against Vanderbilt.

Even if Florida loses to South Carolina and Alabama, a win over Vanderbilt would seemingly clinch a bid for the Gators.