Gators punish Bulldogs


Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 12:01 a.m.
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Florida's Matt Walsh, left, and Corey Brewer block the path of Georgia guard Jay McAuley on Tuesday at the O'Connell Center.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun

Facts

At a glance

  • WHO: South Carolina at Florida.
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday.
  • ON AIR: JP Sports

  • Before Tuesday night's game against Georgia, Florida coach Billy Donovan wanted more balanced scoring and was anxious to see how his team would re-adjust to Matt Walsh in his second game back from an high ankle sprain.
    The balanced scoring was there. Walsh looked fine. And Donovan got a bonus in some defense in a 70-47 win before a nationally televised audience and 11,345 at the O'Connell Center.
    Georgia, playing without leading scorer Levi Stukes, was held to 15 points in the first half and 33.3 percent shooting for the game. The 15 points were the least Florida has allowed in the first half against a Southeastern Conference team in the Donovan era.
    Georgia scored fewer points than its football team (21) did in the first half against the Gators. It was the lowest total for Georgia in the series since scoring 47 in a game in 1951.
    "Defense and rebounding was the difference tonight," said Donovan, noting the team's 44-21 edge on the boards.
    Florida (12-4, 4-1 SEC) rebounded from its 83-76 overtime loss to Tennessee last week and will conclude its three-game homestand Saturday against South Carolina.
    "The big thing is we're 4-1 in the conference," said junior point guard Anthony Roberson, who scored a team-high 18 points. "We just need to take care of ourselves right now. We came out and focused hard on the defensive end."
    Granted, this was a Georgia team that, without Stukes (disciplinary suspension), dressed just six scholarship players. The dearth of scholarship players was the result of the lost 2002 recruiting class following the demise of the Jim Harrick regime.
    Florida jumped to an 8-0 lead and never trailed, leading by as many as 26 points in the second half before emptying the bench. Roberson scored his 18 on 7-of-11 shooting, Al Horford added 10 points and 7 rebounds and Lee Humphrey scored nine points in his sixth straight start.
    Walsh, in 24 minutes off the bench, had 9 points, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in his second game back from an ankle sprain that originally was supposed to have him shelved for the entire month.
    Walsh got a first-half crack in the head from Georgia walk-on Tommy Wainscott as he dove for a loose ball and looked back to his old self, throwing his body around at will.
    "Matt's back and we understand that's all behind us," Roberson said. "We have to move forward from here. We need all of our guys, game in, game out."
    Said Walsh, "They've played with me three years, so they've played with me a lot of times. I think it's perfectly fine."
    The offense didn't flow efficiently at times, but Florida more than made up for it on the defense end. Freshman Kevin Brophy was the main scoring threat, coming off a 19-point game in a win Saturday at home against Vanderbilt. Florida held Brophy to 5 points in the first half and 8 for the game.
    Freshman point guard Sundiata Gaines led Georgia (7-9, 1-5 SEC) with 15 points.
    "They defended us tough," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "They have the ability to defend like that because they have players that are very long and very athletic."
    Felton kept the pace slow, fearing that Florida was going to run Georgia out of the gym.
    The two teams combined for 48 first-half shots.
    Roberson, who scored 13 of his 18 in the first half, extended Florida's lead to 32-15 at halftime by sinking a 3-pointer from the right side with 23.7 seconds left in the half.
    "It was ugly, but we had to keep grinding it out," said freshman Corey Brewer, who finished with 8 points and 2 steals. "We just had to get a win."
    "We tried to press, but they didn't want to run up and down the court," Donovan said. "They held the ball and worked the shot clock. To our credit, our guys stayed disciplined on defense. We did a pretty good job defending in the halfcourt."
    You can reach Kevin Brockway by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5054.

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