No. 14 Florida 95, Tennessee 57

Walsh leads Gators over Tennessee

Published: Saturday, January 10, 2004 at 5:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 10, 2004 at 5:23 p.m.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - No. 14 Florida made an important Southeastern Conference game look more like an early season tuneup.

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Anthony Roberson of Florida goes in to score two points in the first half against Tennessee Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida went on to defeat Tennessee 95-57.

AP Photo/Phil Sandlin

Matt Walsh scored 20 points Saturday and the Gators jumped on Tennessee early for a 95-57 victory Saturday, the Gators' most lopsided win in the 77-year history of the series.

"It's surprising, because in the SEC, you really don't expect to beat anybody by what we beat them by," Florida guard Anthony Roberson said.

Tennessee (9-2, 1-1) was coming off an impressive, 24-point win over Georgia earlier this week, but the Volunteers couldn't handle Florida's full-court press. They committed 20 turnovers.

Nor could Tennessee stop the Gators (11-2, 2-0) from taking almost any shot they wanted. Florida shot 64.8 percent from the field, and the victory _ Florida's sixth straight _ far surpassed the 22-point margin that had stood as Florida's biggest in the series, a 70-48 win in 1995.

Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson was impressed with the Gators.

"Florida's a very good team," he said. "We've got to keep our heads up and stay positive and get ready for the next game."

Walsh scored 10 points in each half. David Lee had 17 points and Roberson finished with 15 on 6-for-8 shooting.

"We came out really playing the way we wanted to play tonight, and that's pressing and getting after them for 40 minutes," Lee said. "When they'd get across halfcourt, we'd deny passes and pressure the ball wherever it was on the court."

Scooter McFadgon, the SEC's leading scorer, went 3-for-13 for 12 points. The poor shooting performance brought back memories of his 3-for-22 effort in Tennessee's only other loss this season, to Nebraska on Dec. 13.

C.J. Watson led Tennessee with 13 points, while Brandon Crump had 11.

Crump, Tennessee's primary inside threat, was limited to two shots during a first half in which Florida went ahead big early and never looked back. In fact, the Gators kept piling on.

"The game got out of hand and we kept playing," Roberson said. "We played the whole game today. We came out both halves and gave energy. It was surprising."

In the first half, Roberson hit a 3-pointer as part of a 17-2 stretch during which the Gators made nine straight shots.

Lee made two free throws to put Florida ahead 38-14 with 7:30 left in the first half, and the rest of the game was spent pretty much playing out the string. Tennessee never pulled closer than 16. Florida coach Billy Donovan used all 11 scholarship players before halftime.

Tennessee had more turnovers than field goals in both halves, and trailed by as many as 40 points. This was the worst SEC road defeat for Tennessee since a 101-40 loss to Kentucky in 1993.

"Our guys sold out today in terms of their effort, energy and intensity," Donovan said. "Hopefully, we can still get better."

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