Gators ride second-half surge to first road win

Florida outscored South Carolina 39-24 in the second half on Saturday.

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 10:35 p.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Florida was aware it needed to play a full game to pick up its first road win of the season.


Florida's Mike Rosario (3) shoots as South Carolina's RJ Slawson (33) defends during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Columbia, S.C. Florida won 79-65. (The Associated Press)

More intensity in the second half helped the No. 19 Gators pull away from South Carolina 79-65 on Saturday.

Second-half play was an issue in Florida's previous two road losses. Florida was outscored 34-27 in the second half at Tennessee and 36-32 in the second half at Rutgers.

“We weren't doing a great job in the second half coming out with intensity,” Florida junior guard Kenny Boynton said. “I think we worked on that in practice and our main focus was to win every possession.”

In Saturday night's win at South Carolina, Florida outscored the Gamecocks 39-24 in the second half. The Gators held the Gamecocks to 25.8 percent shooting from the floor in the final 20 minutes.

Florida coach Billy Donovan adjusted UF's defensive gameplan in the second half, moving out to the perimeter more to pressure South Carolina's shooters. South Carolina made 6 of 11 3-pointers in the first half, but was held to just 3-of-13 3-pointers in the second half.

“Coach told us the whole game we had to be aggressive on the defensive end, most importantly,” Florida junior guard Mike Rosario said. “I felt we did a great job on that in the second half, taking away the 3s that they were hitting.”

Florida took its defensive intensity up a notch in the second half, holding South Carolina scoreless for an eight-minute stretch during a 14-0 run. During the run, Florida forced three turnovers.

“Anytime you get a chance to go on a run, it's generally going to be because of your defense,” Donovan said.

Florida (14-4, 2-1 SEC) also closed the game out at the free-throw line, giving South Carolina (8-9, 0-3) no chance of a late comeback. The Gators went 9-of-11 from the free-throw line in the second half and shot 81 percent (17-21) from the stripe for the game. That helped the Gators improve to 1-4 on the road this season.

“You show a lot of people about your team when you are playing in somebody else's house,” Rosario said. “You have to stay together as one. I felt like we did a great job at that and we've got to keep moving forward.”

Florida next hosts LSU on Saturday.

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