UF overpowers Aggies in SEC play
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 8:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 9:15 a.m.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Florida is growing accustomed to silencing crowds on the road this season.
Hot shooting from Mike Rosario early, inside buckets from Patric Young late and another smothering defensive effort led No. 10 Florida (13-2, 3-0 SEC) to a 68-47 win over Texas A&M before an announced crowd of 11,046 at Reed Arena.
The first Southeastern Conference game between the two schools turned into a laugher late. Florida led by as many as 30 points in the second half before emptying its bench.
A halftime appearance by Texas A&M's Cotton-Bowl winning football team and Johnny Manziel couldn't fire up the Aggies. They wheeled Manziel's Heisman Trophy out to the court, but the magic didn't carry over as Texas A&M started the second half 1-of-10 from the floor.
Florida extended its 35-18 halftime lead to 21 points on a Rosario putback with 16:04 left.
“It's huge because you want to step on the gas, you don't want to give teams hope, and then come back into the game,” Young said. “Coach always says ‘Go for the jugular! You should want to step on their throats.' He always says that. We were able to do that.”
Rosario led three UF scorers in double figures with 19 points. Young added 18 points and eight rebounds, and Erik Murphy had another strong game inside-and-out with 16 points and seven rebounds. Murphy, playing through a broken rib, was 2-of-5 from 3-point range and 4-of-5 on inside buckets.
“I think it's underestimated how good Murph's post game is,” Young said. “It's a bad thing for other teams to underestimate him, but it's a good thing for us, so we can throw the ball into him more and get more easy baskets.”
But again, the story of the game for the Gators was defense. Florida held an opponent under 50 points for the eighth time in 15 games this season. Texas A&M senior guard Elston Turner, coming off a 40-point game against Kentucky, was held to four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Florida junior guard Scottie Wilbekin shadowed Turner for most of the game.
“Scottie Wilbekin did a terrific job,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “He was able to get through screens and then guys did a good job at the ending of screens providing a little bit of help.”
Young credited the scouting report provided by Florida assistant coach Rashon Burno.
“Watching the Kentucky game, (Turner) loves to go right, all his points and baskets come when he goes to the right,” Young said. “So we forced him to when he comes to the ball to go to his left so he can't get a quick shot up. Scottie did a great job making him uncomfortable, being the pesky defender that he is.”
Overall, Florida held Texas A&M to 34 percent shooting and 30 percent from 3-point range.
“I think people don't give them enough credit defensively,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “They are very good defensively. Patric Young is the most improved I've seen, last year to this year. They're just a very disciplined team.”
Offensively, the Gators received an early lift from Rosario. After sitting out the LSU game with a sprained ankle, Rosario said he spent “every free minute” in the trainer's room. Donovan said that Rosario had two good days of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rosario scored 11 of UF's first 13 points, hitting 4 of his first 5 shot attempts, including three straight 3-pointers.
“I knew once I was going to get some looks, I was going to take them,” Rosario said. “They started falling early, and I kept getting confidence.”
Donovan said he felt the ball movement was good throughout the first half, even with Rosario scoring most of the points early. The Gators finished with 10 first-half assists.
“Mike carried us there the first eight minutes in the first half because it was back and forth there,” Donovan said. “He bailed us out with some of the shots he made.”
Up 21-18, Florida held Texas A&M scoreless for the final 5:30 of the first half. The flurry included 3-pointers from Rosario and Murphy and two inside baskets from Young.
The Gators carried that momentum into the second half. Young scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, including three on putback dunks and layups.
As a result, Florida heads into its quick-turnaround matchup with No. 17 Missouri on Saturday afternoon at the O'Connell Center with growing confidence. The Gators have won five straight and improved to 4-1 on the road this season. Florida has won its four road games by an average margin of 22.3 points.
“We're not satisfied,” Rosario said. “We have a tough one against Missouri on Saturday at home and we've got to move on to the next thing.
FREE THROWS: Donovan won his 399th game at Florida. He will get a chance to pick up his 400th win at UF on Saturday at home against No. 17 Missouri. … Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey ripped into the freshmen in the hallway outside the locker room for their lackluster effort in the closing minutes. UF's freshmen and walk-on Jacob Kurtz were outscored 9-0 in the final 2:33 of the game by Texas A&M. Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and DeVon Walker all had costly turnovers in garbage time.