FSU 82, UF 69

Walsh-less Gators fall to 'Noles


Published: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 5:18 a.m.
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Florida State's Todd Galloway drives for two points in the first half as Florida's Corey Brewer tries to defend in Tallahassee.

The Associated Press

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  • WHO: Arkansas at Florida.
  • WHEN: Saturday, noon.

  • TALLAHASSEE - Without its leading scorer, Florida's men's basketball team came into its game with Florida State leaning on the confidence of a six-game winning streak.
    The Gators left the Donald L. Tucker Center humbled. UF's non-conference schedule ended with lingering questions instead of answers.
    Florida stumbled through an 82-69 loss Sunday afternoon to the Seminoles before a scant crowd of 6,632. But the concerns don't end there. Junior guard Matt Walsh, who sprained his left ankle in practice Thursday, remains doubtful for the Southeastern Conference opener Saturday at home against Arkansas.
    Walsh, who traveled with the team and wore a soft cast on the ankle, will have the injury re-evaluated in Gainesville today. As of now, it's classified as a high ankle sprain.
    "He can run forward right now, but he can't cut," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "They've said 3-10 days. I don't know if he'll be back Saturday."
    It would have been easy to pin the loss on the absence of Walsh, but sophomore Lee Humphrey filled in admirably, scoring a season-high 15 in his first start of the season. Instead, it was the all-too-familiar case of Florida being out-muscled by a stronger opponent. The Seminoles grabbed 12 of 16 offensive rebounds in the first half and scored 20 second-chance points.
    Overall, Florida State out-rebounded Florida 44-20.
    "We weren't physically strong enough to handle their guys inside," Donovan said. "It wasn't a lack of toughness."
    Florida State (8-6) won for the first time in the series since 1997 and the first time against Florida at home since December 1988. Von Wafer scored a game-high 20, 18 of which came on six 3-pointers. Adam Waleskowski added 18, Al Thornton scored 17, and Alexander Johnson just missed his first career triple-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
    "This was a game that seemed to bring out the best in us," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We all know that we've been inconsistent. It's unfortunate it took an in-state rival to create this kind of mindset, but hopefully a win like this will give us confidence and help with our consistency heading into our league schedule."
    Anthony Roberson scored a team-high 22 points for Florida (8-3), but senior David Lee was a non-factor, finishing with 4 points and 4 rebounds. Lee attempted just one shot in the first half.
    Donovan sat Lee for the final 14 minutes in favor of freshmen Joakim Noah and Al Horford as Florida tried to get back in the game with its press. It was a strange sight, Lee and Walsh sitting next to each other on the bench with Florida's fortunes up in the air.
    "David is a Naismith Award candidate," Donovan said. "At some point he has to demand the basketball and create his own offense."
    Without Walsh, Florida looked disjointed on offense early, scoring just one point though the first three minutes of the game. Florida battled back from an early 7-1 hole to pull within 35-32 on a jump-hook by Chris Richard with a minute remaining in the first half.
    The game turned as quickly when Florida State closed the half with a 10-0 run. Anthony Richardson scored five straight points on a three-point play and a layup. Freshman Taurean Green then had a ball stolen at midcourt by Al Thornton with 8 seconds left, and Noah was whistled for an intentional foul when he took down Thornton as he drove to the basket for a breakaway layup.
    Thornton made both free throws. On the ensuing in-bounds play, Todd Galloway found Wafter, who sank an open 3-pointer from the top of the circle as time expired to put FSU up 45-32.
    "We made some freshman mistakes there," Donovan said.
    Florida State extended the lead to as much as 19 in the second half. Florida tried to get back into the game with its press but couldn't knock down enough big shots. A Roberson 3-pointer pulled Florida within 67-58 with 7:17 remaining, but five straight possessions that could have cut into a 71-60 lead ended with three missed 3-point attempts, a turnover and two missed free throws.
    "We just didn't run our offense," Roberson said. "They weren't as good as us, we just didn't do the things that we needed to do to win the game."
    A healthy Walsh may have come in handy, but Florida must brace for the prospect of him being out at least one more game. The injury occurred when he stepped on Humphrey's foot while dribbling in transition.
    Walsh, a second-team All-SEC guard as a sophomore, missed his first career game and came into Sunday averaging a team-high 16.0 points.
    "Losing Matt shouldn't be an excuse," Roberson said. "If you want to be a good team, guys have to step up their games when other guys are down. We need all of our guys to win."
  • FREE THROWS: Adrian Moss returned to the lineup after sitting out the past two games with back spasms. Moss finished with 4 points and 1 rebound in seven minutes. ... Florida shot a season-worst 13 of 25 from the line. Again, the freshmen were the culprits. Corey Brewer was 4 for 9 from the stripe, and Al Horford was 0 for 2. ... Florida forced 21 turnovers but managed just 15 points off the turnovers.
    You can reach Kevin Brockway at brockwk@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5054.
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