Gators Take Sloppy Win, Improve To 8-0

It's a good thing they don't score basketball like they do figure skating or the Florida Gators might not be 8-0. If you lost points for style and artistic impression, the Gators might have lost enough points to lose the game. Fortunately, style and artistry don't count as the Gators gave Coach Billy Donovan an 87-77 homecoming win over the Providence Friars of the Big East Conference.

Donovan, whose jersey hangs from the rafters of the Dunkin Donuts Center (formerly known as the Providence Civic Center), was honored before the game by Providence College for his outstanding career at PC, but especially for his brilliant senior season (1986-87) when he led the Friars to the East Region championship and the Final Four.

The eighth-ranked Gators kept their record unbeaten in spite of themselves Tuesday night, winning despite 24 turnovers and a rash of bonehead plays and fouls. The victory ensured the Gators of their best start since the 1951-52 team began the season 10-0. After that great start, that team went 5-9 the rest of the way.

Florida will have a chance to improve to 9-0 at home Friday night against Bethune-Cookman as the second half a doubleheader in Gainesville at the O'Connell Center. The Florida women's team (6-1) will play host to Illinois at 6 p.m. and the men's team will face BCC at 8:30.

The Gators placed five players in double figures with point guard Taurean Green leading the way with 18. Green scored 14 of his points in the first half including a 30-foot three ball at the halftime buzzer that gave the Gators a 47-34 lead and the momentum at the intermission. Green had four three-pointers in the first half.

Green also went 6-6 from the foul line to stretch his consecutive free throw mark to 33, which ties Kenyan Weaks for first place in the all-time Gator records.

Al Horford and Corey Brewer each had 14 points for the Gators while Joakim Noah added 11 and Adrian Moss had 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. In addition to his points, Brewer finished with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Noah added eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and three blocked shots.

For the game, the Gators shot 49 percent from the field (27-55) and 45 per cent from behind the three-point line (9-20).

The Gators never trailed in the basketball game. Florida jumped to an 11-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game and the closest Providence could come after that was six points at the end of an 18-3 run that cut the Gators' lead from 37-16 to 40-34 with 56 seconds remaining in the half.

The Gators most impressive stretch of basketball in the game came in the first half when they outscored Providence 22-8 over a six minute stretch. Florida hit seven of eight shots from the field during that run including five straight threes, three of the bombs coming from Green.

In that final minute of the half, however, the Gators regained their poise and the momentum, scoring the final seven points of the half on a layup by Moss, a pair of free throws by Green and then Green's last second bomb. The final shot was set up when Noah knocked the ball free from Providence's Joe McGrath near midcourt into the waiting hands of Lee Humphrey. Humphrey maneuvered through traffic, drew the defenders toward him and then delivered the perfect pass to Green who launched from well behind the three-point line.

The Gators fought their way through foul trouble and poor ball handling in the second half to stretch the lead to as many as 20 points before settling for the 10-point win. Florida scored the first six points of the second half to increase the lead to 19 points (53-34) and from there it was a cruise control win. Horford asserted himself on the offensive end early in the second half, scoring eight of Florida's first 15 points.

Florida let Providence within 12 at the 13:32 mark (62-50) but a run of six straight points iced that run by the Friars. Providence had a 10-2 run to get within 11 at the 2:22 mark and the Friars cut the margin to 10 on the last shot of the game.

Brewer and Horford both fouled out for the Gators while Green played in foul trouble the entire second half. When Green went to the bench with his fourth foul at the 8:29 mark, the Gators had a 75-55 lead. When he returned with just under five minutes remaining in the game, Florida was holding on to a 79-67 lead.

The Gators played nine players and all nine scored.

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