FAMU no match for No. 19 Florida

Florida's David Lee scores Tuesday against Florida A&M's Michael Harper in the first half at the O'Connell Center.

DAVID MASSEY/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 12:02 a.m.
The conditions were ripe for a career night. Wide-open looks. A coach intent on stopping Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson while packing the rest of the defense inside.
Still, it may serve as an early confidence boost for Florida sophomore forward Mohamed Abukar.
Abukar scored a career-high 22 points, sinking 4-of-6 three pointers in the first half, and Florida used its perimeter shooting to dismantle Florida A&M 88-51 before 9,122 at the O'Connell Center.
For Abukar, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery after trying to play through shoulder and back problems as a freshman, it was a night of fulfilled promise. Abukar came to Florida a highly regarded prospect after de-committing from Georgia when Jim Harrick resigned, so highly regarded that the 6-foot-10 forward was on both Kentucky's and Louisville's wish list.
"It feels great," Abukar said. "I have been waiting for a big game. I've been working hard in practice. I've been wondering and sitting back and waiting for my big game."
Starting point guard Anthony Roberson added 13 points and is now five points shy of 1,000 for his career. Freshman forward Corey Brewer finished with 11 points and two assists.
But this was a night for Abukar, in large part because Florida A&M came out in a triangle-and-two defense designed to stop Walsh and Roberson. Florida coach Billy Donovan countered by putting three shooters on the floor.
Abukar, 1-for-5 on 3-point attempts coming into the game, checked in for Brewer at the 15-minute mark of the first half. He hit consecutive three-pointers from the right side during an 8-0 run that put Florida up 21-8.
"They kind of backed off me at first," Abukar said. "That was all I needed to get my confidence going and keep shooting."
Abukar, who averaged 2.7 points per game as a freshman, finished the first-half scoring flurry with two more three pointers, a mid-range jumper and a drive to the basket in which he was fouled. By halftime, Abukar scored 16 points, surpassing the career-high of 12 he set Dec. 2 of 2003, also against Florida A&M.
"Obviously, we didn't consider Abukar hitting 8 out of 10 shots," Florida A&M coach Mike Gillespie said. "That was our gameplan, to make someone else beat us. My hats off to the young man."
There were no adjustments Gillespie could make.
"It would have been against the law," Gillespie said. "A gun and a bullet would have been the only way to stop him."
'I'm happy for Mo in that coming from California, going through all the health problems he's gone through, this was a good night for him," Donovan said. "But he was getting some wide-open looks and it was pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel. I'd be curious to look at the tape and see how he did on defense."
In all, Florida sank 9-of-18 first half three-pointers to build a 47-28 lead.
"I would have liked to go inside more, but with the defense they played, we had open looks, and I'm not going to tell my shooters to hold back," Donovan said.
It would have been a perfect night to celebrate, save for a second-half ankle injury to freshman point guard Taurean Green. Green twisted his right ankle at the 14:00 mark after fouling Florida A&M forward Dion Glover while trying to go for a steal. He hobbled off the floor, and soon after was taken into the locker room and did not return the rest of the game.
"I'm concerned," Donovan said. "We'll know more (Wednesday). It's definitely an ankle sprain. But at this point, with him not being able to come out on the floor at the end of the game, I'd probably say that he's doubtful for Saturday against Miami."
With Green out, Donovan had freshman Cornelius Ingram bring the ball up the floor while Roberson was on the bench. If Green is out for Saturday's game against Miami, Donovan said he would use a combination of players to back up Roberson, but sounded like he was leaning toward Ingram, a Hawthorne native who plays both basketball and football.
"With Matt and Lee Humphrey, the way they shoot, you don't want to take that aspect of the game away from them," Donovan said. "I think we'll have to talk to Cornelius about that."
  • FREE THROWS: Walsh was held to 5 points after consecutive 21-point games ... Roberson hit his first two free throws of the season Tuesday night and has sank 23 in a row dating back to last year.
    You can reach Kevin Brockway by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5054.
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