Redshirt freshman leaves mark in Starkville

UF's pest control


Florida forward Adrian Moss battles Mississippi State center Mario Austin for the ball in the first half, Tuesday, in Starkville, Miss. Florida defeated Mississippi State, 74-66.

AP Photo/Rogelio Solis
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 1:01 a.m.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Adrian Moss walked out of the locker room at Humphrey Coliseum, looked both ways and seemed a bit confused.
"Bus, where's the bus?" Moss said, smiling. "I don't want to go the wrong way and get beat up."
Moss was joking. But he wasn't exactly the most popular person in the gymnasium after his physical play was able to rattle Mississippi State center Mario Austin. Statistically, Austin was still effective, but after he was knocked to the floor a few times by Moss, his play was less effective.
"Adrian Moss," Mississippi State point guard Derrick Zimmerman said, "is a pest."
To the Bulldogs, Moss is a pest. For Florida, he is a newly discovered gem.
Through most of the nonconference play, Moss was quietly on Florida's bench. He never logged more than 20 minutes in a game. He showed signs of what he could do, he had six blocks against Eastern Illinois and had nine points and six rebounds against Coastal Carolina.
Nothing spectacular at all. In most of Florida's biggest games, Moss was a nonfactor. He played 10 or fewer minutes against Stanford, Maryland and Miami.
But when Moss had the biggest opportunity to make an impact on a game, he made the most of it. But he insists he wasn't looking at the Mississippi State game as an audition for more playing time.
"It was and it wasn't," Moss said. "I want to win. I want to help this team win."
If Moss can continue to make the kind of impact he did Tuesday and play 15-20 quality minutes a game for Florida, the Gators are going to be a lot better off during league play. In nonconference action, Florida was able to plow through the majority of the schedule thanks to consistent play from five players, Justin Hamilton, Matt Bonner, David Lee, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh.
But five isn't going to be enough in SEC play. With Brett Nelson slowly beginning to play better, that gives the Gators a sixth. Christian Drejer returns next week, which should be a seventh. Now, Moss is poised to be the eighth contributor Florida is going to need if it is going to contend for an SEC title.
"We need Adrian to play like that every game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He has that in him."
Moss' teammates know he's capable of playing a huge role for this team now.
"His play was key tonight," Hamilton said. "He does all those things (former UF star) Brent Wright used to do. Adrian Moss is Brent Wright."
Those who know Wright, and followed him during his time at Florida, know compliments don't come much higher than that.
  • Florida is 3-0 against ranked opponents this season. The Gators have been underdogs in three games and have won all of them ... Hamilton's 22 points Tuesday night was a season-high and tied a career-high. Hamilton also had 22 against at Tennessee on Jan. 9, 2002 ... Walsh's four points were his lowest output of the season, his previous low was five against Florida State.
    You can reach Dylan B. Tomlinson by calling 374-5054 or by e-mail at tomlind@gvillesun.com
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