"Just Like football", Florida 90, Georgia 72
Published: Saturday, January 7, 2006 at 12:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 7, 2006 at 12:57 p.m.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Joakim Noah and Al Horford dominated the lane. Taureen Green kept the defense guessing with lightning-quick moves. Lee Humphrey swished a bunch of 3s from outside the arc.
No. 5 Florida simply had too much for Georgia, which kept it close for a half but couldn't keep the Gators from tying a school record with their 14th straight win.
Noah scored 24 points, Green added 21 and Florida pulled away in the second half for a 90-72 victory over the Bulldogs.
Humphrey chipped in with 18 points, including nine straight at the start of the second half to break open a close game. Horford had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
"That's the thing about this team," Noah said. "Everybody scores pretty equally, and everybody gets after it defensively. We have so many weapons on this team. That makes it hard on the opponent. Who are you going to stop?"
The Gators (14-0) already were off to the best start in school history and, in their Southeastern Conference opener, equaled the school record for most consecutive victories, which has been done two other times.
"How many is that now?" Noah asked, seeming sincere when asked about the record. "We'll, now we've got to get to 15. We've just got to keep going."
Georgia (10-4, 0-1 SEC) won more games by New Year's Day than it did all of last season, but the still-rebuilding Bulldogs couldn't keep up with Florida for 40 minutes.
Bouncing back from an early 11-point deficit, Georgia actually surged to the lead with 12-0 run sparked by freshman Terrance Woodbury, playing for the first time since Nov. 21 after being sidelined for 10 games with a sprained knee.
The Gators seized the momentum with eight straight points late in the first half, settling for a 38-33 lead at the break. They quickly blew it open at the start of the second half.
On Florida's opening possession, Humphrey ventured inside on a backdoor play. He made the shot _ his only one in the game from inside the arc _ drew a foul on Levi Stukes and finished off the three-point play at the foul line.
On Florida's next two trips down the court, the junior guard turned to a more familiar option, slipping away from the defense to sink a pair of 3-pointers that pushed the Gators to a 47-35 lead. He finished 5-of-10 outside the stripe, getting open looks almost every time Georgia sagged into the lane to shut down Green or Florida's big men.
"We just got hot," Humphrey said. "I was fortunate that my guys got into the paint and made the extra pass."
Georgia trailed by at least 10 points the rest of the way.
"We made some big mistakes leaving Humphrey open and we gave them some easy baskets in transition," Bulldogs coach Dennis Felton said. "We certainly talked about not giving Humphrey any quality looks. It's hard to understand why he was able to get so many open shots."
Woodbury had 10 points in the first half, but the Gators clamped down on the freshman in the second half. He finished with 14.
"This is just one big, big letdown," Woodbury said. "They are hard to defend, but you've got to want to do it. You've got to have everybody on the same page, doing the same thing."
Noah went 9-of-12 from the field, several of them on thunderous dunks. Green connected three times from 3-point range, went 8-for-8 at the foul line and doled out five assists.
Steve Newman paced the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Sundiata Gaines joined Woodbury at 14. Georgia shot just 40 percent from the field, compared with 53 percent for the Gators.
Florida also did a better job taking care of the ball after committing 11 turnovers in the first half. The Gators had only three over the final 20 minutes.
With the game decided, the Georgia students and a hefty contingent from Florida spent the final minutes engaged in dueling chants.
The Florida fans started with "Just like football!" _ a reference to the Gators' 14-10 victory over Georgia. The Bulldog fans responded with "SEC" _ gloating over their SEC championship.
When it comes to basketball, there's little doubt about which school holds the upper hand.
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