Will Richard helps Florida basketball get past Mississippi State in key SEC win

The junior was one point away from his career high
Florida Gators guard Will Richard (5) hangs on the basket after a slam dunk in the first half. The
Florida Gators guard Will Richard (5) hangs on the basket after a slam dunk in the first half. The / Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner / USA TODAY

Heading into its key matchup with Mississippi State, Florida basketball guard Will Richard had been relatively quiet in the box score since SEC play began.

But after a season high output from Richard, the Gators were able to hold off the Bulldogs for a key SEC win on Wednesday night.

Florida Basketball: Rich men get richer

Coming into last night's contest, Richard had been held to single digit points in three of Florida's five SEC games and had scored 13 points in the other two.

Despite being a starter every game, Richard had yet to top 30 minutes of floor time since SEC play began.

All those struggles were exalted as Richard exploded for 23 points on eight of fifteen shooting, going four of seven from three. His 23 points was one away from his career high he set last season against Georgia.

As a result of being a scoring machine, Richard played 35 minutes on the night.

Florida as a whole struggled to pull away from Mississippi State, as it wasn't until three minutes to go in the first half before Florida had a lead over five points.

But coming out of the second half, Florida was able to do something they have struggled with at times and that was keep the momentum going. We have noted before how Florida's second half scoring margin isn't great for a team with a winning record,

By the time Richard hit a jumper with eight minutes left, the lead had ballooned to 17 points.

A flash run from Mississippi State did pull the Bulldogs within six points with three minutes left and the ball, but a block by Zyon Pullin ended the run and secured the win for Florida.

Florida will have another must win game against Georgia this Saturday before a rematch with Kentucky looms next week.