Gators like fan support on the road


Florida's Corey Brewer gets a pep talk from teammate Taurean Green #11 and head coach Billy Donovan in the second half against Georgia Saturday, January 7, 2006, in Athens. The Gators went on to beat the Bulldogs 90-72.

DOUG FINGER/THE GAINESVILLE SUN
Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 3:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 3:26 p.m.
ATHENS, Ga. - For the second time in the past three seasons, Florida began its Southeastern Conference schedule on the road.
But it sounded at times like a home crowd Saturday. Florida fans filled 10 upper deck sections at Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum, strong road fan support for a team off to an undefeated start.
"That's what we like," sophomore forward Joakim Noah said after his career-best 24-point game. "The Gator Nation coming out and supporting us, giving us some of that Gator love."
An announced crowd of 9,217 attended the Saturday noon tipoff. Florida gave the Gator faithful plenty to cheer about, jumping to a quick lead and cruising to a 90-72 win.
With the game decided in the closing minutes, Florida and Georgia fans went back and forth with echoing chants. It began with Florida chanting "Just like football," referring to its 14-10 win in Jacksonville against the Bulldogs. Georgia fans responded with "S-E-C," referring to winning the SEC Championship game.
To up the ante, Florida fans responded with chants of 'West Virginia" to reference the Dawgs' Sugar Bowl loss to the Mountaineers. But Georgia fans quickly regrouped with the last football word, chanting "South Carolina," the Florida loss that prevented a trip to the SEC title game.
Florida fans then went to the more conventional "It's Great to be a Florida Gator," as the closing seconds ticked off.
Frosh sparks Georgia Much of Georgia's early success has centered around the play of freshmen guards Mike Mercer and Billy Humphrey, but the Bulldogs received another lift from a freshman coming off an injury.
Terrence Woodbury, a 6-foot-6 forward who missed Georgia's last 10 games with a strained medial collateral ligament in his knee, was active around the basket in finishing with 14 points and four rebounds.
Woodbury reached the free-throw line six times, making all six attempts.
"Everybody can see how much Woodbury means to our team," Georgia coach Dennis Felton said. "He has great versatility, and hopefully he can continue to get stronger and stay healthy. He has some great qualities that can help us and can score in a variety of ways."
Sutton recovering Florida freshman forward Jimmie Sutton, on a medical redshirt, made the trip with the Gators, but is still a long way from resuming basketball activities.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he tried to work the 6-foot-10 Sutton into some light drills over the holiday break, but Sutton's knee swelled up again. Sutton underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL last April.
"We're going to wait until the end of the season now with him," Donovan said. "Let him rest and heal up to get ready for next year."
You can reach Kevin Brockway by calling 374-5054 or by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com.

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