Gators drop two in a row

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 8:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 8:48 p.m.

Tarence Kinsey had 19 points as South Carolina ended a nine-game losing streak to No. 5 Florida with a 68-62 victory Wednesday night, the Gators' second straight loss after opening the season with 17 wins.

The Gators (17-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) failed to extend the best start in school history with their 80-76 loss to Tennessee last Saturday.

At first, the Gators looked eager to take their first loss out on the Gamecocks (11-8, 2-4) as Joakim Noah (New York, N.Y.) had three quick inside baskets to put Florida ahead 15-6. But South Carolina followed with a 20-6 run to take control.

Kinsey and Renaldo Balkman were two big reasons why.

Kinsey, a senior, had 11 of his 19 points in the second half and steadied his younger teammates as Florida made a late run.

Balkman, a 6-foot-8 reserve, cut off the middle for Florida's big men and created an inside presence for the Gamecocks. He finished with 14 points.

Taurean Green (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) led the Gators with 17 points, while Noah had 12, only four in the second half.

Balkman had three baskets during South Carolina's decisive first-half run, then had a basket and a free throw to help the team start the second half with a 9-2 run that gave the Gamecocks a 38-25 lead.

Green had two three-pointers, Walter Hodge (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) added one and Al Horford (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) scored inside bucket as Florida cut a 15-point lead to 67-62 with 38 seconds to go.

South Carolina held on despite going 4-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch.

South Carolina had squandered leads of 15 points in a loss to Tennessee three weeks ago, and 12 points to Kentucky last Saturday.

Florida returns home to face Vanderbilt at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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