Chris Chiozza scored a game-high 19 points, and teammate KeVaughn Allen added 17 as Florida struggled with James Madison but pulled out a 72-63 victory Monday in Gainesville, Fla.
Florida (7-4) dropped out of the Top 25 this week for the first time after losing a late lead and falling to Clemson 71-69 on Saturday. That was the Gators’ fourth loss in five games after a 5-0 start.
The Florida offense that began the season among the nation’s best has not been as effective, and defense continues to be an issue.
Even though the Gators shot only 37.9 percent from the field and had trouble again, the Florida defense helped — especially in the second half.
James Madison (4-9) often got into the lane in the first half, a big reason why Florida held only a 31-30 halftime lead.
The Gators stepped up the defense in the final 20 minutes, making it harder for the Dukes to find good shots. Florida also was able to go on a few key runs.
The Gators began the half with an 8-0 surge before James Madison slowly chipped away and cut the lead to 57-52 on a Ramone Snowden 3-pointer.
Florida then scored the next nine points to take command. Jalen Hudson scored five points during that run.
The Gators were not able to break the game open. James Madison kept battling and cut the deficit to seven in the final minute but could do no more.
Hudson (10 points) was the third Gator to finish in double figures.
Snowden led the Dukes with 18 points. Matt Lewis added 14, and Darius Banks and Stuckey Mosley each had 10 points.