UF MEN'S BASKETBALL

Sloppy wins won't do it on the road


Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 12:30 a.m.
It was a solid win. A road win. Yet Florida has much work to do if it wants to pull out more games on the road in the Southeastern Conference in the future. Florida turned the ball over 23 times and shot 60 percent (12 of 20) from the free-throw line in its 84-78 overtime win at Auburn.
That doesn't even get into the rebounding numbers. Auburn, despite having no starters taller than 6-foot-6, grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and finished an even 36-36 with Florida in overall rebounding.
"There were times when I didn't think we did a good job blocking out," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "There is no reason that we should be evened up 36 all with our height differential and there's no way that we should have given up 17 offensive rebounds."
Rebounds, free-throws and taking care of the ball better will be the main areas of focus in practice before Saturday's game at Vanderbilt.
Missed free throws have made for nervous moments in Florida's 2-0 SEC start. Florida is a combined 6 of 17 in the final two minutes in its last two games. Two misses by freshman Corey Brewer and one more by junior Anthony Roberson in the final 9.0 seconds allowed Auburn to tie the score on a wild, fall-away 3-pointer by freshman Toney Douglas.
Florida is shooting 67.7 percent from the line this season, down from the 75.0 percent the team finished at last season.
"It's going to be a concern all year long," Donovan said. "We're going to continue to try to shoot free throws each and every day. We had some big ones coming down the stretch ... Any time you miss free throws down the stretch at the end of games, you always give your opponent a chance."
Donovan was pleased that Florida was able to contain Auburn at the 3-point line. Auburn, which came into the game averaging 9.14 three-pointers per game, was 7 of 30 and held without a three in 12 second-half attempts until Douglas's desperation shot.
Like Louisville's win at Florida earlier in the season, Florida beat Auburn at the 3-point line by hitting 10 of 18 from beyond the arc.
"Hopefully our guys understood the value of not only taking the three and utilizing it, but stopping it," Donovan said. "In a couple of our losses, besides the rebounding margin, the 3-point line was a major factor."
Florida will again be placing a strong perimeter shooting team in Vanderbilt. The Commodores (11-5, 2-1 SEC) hit a combined 30 3-pointers in SEC wins over Alabama and Tennessee. But Vandy cooled off Wednesday night at Rupp Arena, shooting a season-low 30 percent despite hitting nine more 3-pointers against the Wildcats.
Vanderbilt lost forward Matt Freije, a two-time All-SEC selection who finished second to Lawrence Roberts in player of the year balloting last year. But the rest of the starters are back from a team that made the Sweet 16 last season.
"To me, they are a more balanced team, a more well-rounded team, and they are one of those teams that's scary because you don't know who is going to step up," Donovan said.
Based on the loss of Freije, a second-round NBA Draft pick who was traded from the Miami Heat to the New Orleans Hornets, Vanderbilt was picked to finish last in the SEC East in the preseason SEC media days last October.
Junior point-guard Mario Moore is leading the Commodores in scoring at 14.1 points per game and 7-foot-2 center Dawid Przybyszweski is a perimeter threat.
"I think that's all just people not understanding what's left on a team and that it is a team," Donovan said. "They don't have maybe the Matt Freije type of player on their team, but they have a better team in my opinion."
Florida learned Wednesday night it can't take any SEC team on the road lightly.
"We have to come ready no matter who we play," Florida senior forward David Lee said.
Kevin Brockway can be reached at (352) 374-5054 or by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com.

Up next

  • WHO: Florida (10-3, 2-0) at Vanderbilt (11-5, 2-1)
  • WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m.
  • ON THE AIR: WCJB, WJXT
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