By MARK LONG , AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — KeVaughn Allen scored 31 points, Noah Locke added a career-high 27 and Florida used a flurry of 3-pointers to overcome a 13-point deficit and beat Texas A&M 81-72 on Tuesday night.
The Gators made 18 of 37 from behind the arc, including 11 of 15 in the second half, and set season highs in makes and attempts.
Allen hit 8 of 10, and Locke connected on 7 of 13. It was most combined 3-pointers for any two players in school history, topping the previous record of 13 set by Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton in 2012.
Florida (11-7, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) needed just about every one of them to rally against the Aggies (7-10, 1-5).
Texas A&M shot 55.2 percent from the field in the first half and made 7 of 11 from 3-point range, taking a 46-33 lead into the locker room that had to be concerning for Florida coach Mike White.
But the Gators clamped down on the defensive end after the break and got red shot from long range.
Allen and Locke kept getting open and kept making them. No other Florida player scored in double figures.
Wendell Mitchell led the Aggies with 25 points, including 17 in the first half. Jay Jay Chandler added 15 points for the road team, which has dropped three straight.
Florida hadn’t had a 20-point scorer all season, but got two on the same night. White’s offense has been hit and miss — and mostly miss — all season. But it looked unstoppable in the second half against the Aggies. The Gators shot 55 percent in the final 20 minutes.
It was the Aggies who barely missed in the first half, putting on a shot-making show that had to have coach Billy Kennedy wondering where this team had been all season.
Texas A&M scored 43 points in its last game, a 23-point loss at home to Missouri. That followed a 19-point home loss to 14th-ranked Auburn.
But Kennedy’s looked energized against Florida, at least in the opening 20 minutes.
Texas A&M hadn’t scored 46 points in the first half of a game since the season opener against overmatched Savannah State in early November. But after consecutive lopsided losses at home, the Aggies looked like a motivated team eager to prove doubters wrong in Gainesville.
Florida started three freshmen for the second consecutive game. It’s the first time in 20 years the Gators have gone with three first-year players in the starting lineup. LaDarius Halton, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller were the last trio to do so for Florida. Haslem and Miller helped carry the Gators to the national championship game the following year.
Florida played its first game without injured forward Keith Stone, who tore a ligament in his left knee at Georgia on Saturday. Coach Mike White also announced Monday that center Gorjok Gak (knee) would take a medical redshirt this season. Those losses, combined with forward Chase Johnson transferring midseason, leave Florida short-handed in the frontcourt.
Texas A&M begins a three-game homestand against Kansas State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.
Florida also takes a break from league action and plays at TCU in the Challenge on Saturday.