O-Dome return one to forget for Huertas


Published: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 12:13 a.m.

As far as homecomings go, Saturday’s game was one David Huertas might like to forget.

A freshman on Florida’s 2006 national champions, Huertas transferred to Mississippi following that season. And after sitting out a year per NCAA rules, all was good for him when he helped the Rebels to an 89-87 victory against the Gators last season in Oxford.

But his return to Gainesville was a different story.

The 6-foot-5 junior guard came in averaging 20.1 points on 47.5-percent shooting, but shot just 4-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-10 from the foul line for 16 points in UF’s 78-68 win. The first half was particularly rough, as he entered the locker room with more air balls (two) than baskets made (one).

And the partisan Gator fans let Huertas hear about it, chanting “air ball” pretty much every time he touched the ball the rest of the night. One fan in the student section even brought a “Benedict Huertas” sign to the O’Connell Center.

“They were kind of rough on me,” said Huertas, who played high school ball at Jacksonville Arlington Country Day and had a few friends in the stands.

The trip wasn’t all bad for him, though.

Florida guard Walter Hodge visited his former roommate at the Ole Miss team hotel last night.

“It was nice to see him and talk a little bit,” said Hodge, who also scored 16 points in the game. “We’ve known each other (since we were six years old).”

Huertas also visited Gainesville the weekend of Sept. 27, when the Rebel football team handed the eventual BCS national champions their only loss of the season, 31-30. He stayed with Hodge and “was crazy (after the game),” according to Hodge.

While Huertas may be a full-fledged Rebel now, Hodge, who playfully taunted his buddy during the game, said he thinks his fellow Puerto Rico native may at least on occasion have some second thoughts about leaving UF.

“I don’t think he regrets it,” Hodge said. “But I think he would rather be over here.”

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