Florida did it on both ends of the court, scoring 84 points against a team that held them below 70 three times last year. The Gators also got it done on the defensive end, holding the Gamecocks without a field goal for more than ten minutes of the second half. The Gators displayed their incredible inside out game with great ball movement; allowing Humphrey to make seven of eight shots from long range on his way to a career high 27 points.
Florida's win also conjured up memories of the Beatles… you remember… number nine, number nine, number nine. Aside from the aforementioned nine points they held the Gamecocks to for most of the second half; the Gators also played the game committing just nine turnovers. You want one more "number nine"? Florida made nine of 14 three-point shots.
Plenty of Credit to Go Around
Humphrey's sensational game did not beat the Gamecocks by itself, but it sure came close. Still the sharp shooting senior had plenty of help. Al Horford posted another double-double with 14 points and eleven rebounds. Joakim Noah added 13 points and eight boards, and each of the Gator big men blocked two shots.
Taurean Green was a fourth Gator in double-figures with ten points and Florida's point guard chipped in four assists and three steals. Corey Brewer only scored six points, but he had five assists. Walter Hodge also passed out five assists to go with a five point effort.
Two freshmen also contributed nicely. Marrisse Speights scored four points and while Brandon Powell scored just two, he gave the Gators a defensive lift to help slow down Carolina guard Tre Kelly who had 20 points in the first 17 minutes but scored just four the rest of the way.
Looked Like a Defending Champ
On a day when more than 60-thousand fans crowded into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to celebrate Florida's football championship, the Gator Basketball Team decides to put on quite a show. More than once during the celebration on Florida Field it was pointed out that the Gators are the first school to hold both national titles at the same time. But one thing was not pointed out, so I'll do it. It seems obvious, but keep in mind that no school has ever won both championships in the same school year, either. That's a record that could fall in less than three months.
The Florida Gators looked like the defending national champs today, perhaps more so than any game other than the Ohio State contest. It's no coincidence that Saturday's game and the contest with the Buckeyes in the O'Dome stand as the best performances of the season to date. The Ohio State game was the pre-conference game Florida most looked forward to; and it brought out a dominant performance. It's also not surprising that the SEC opponent (well, one of the two) Florida most wanted to beat brought out the performance we all saw Saturday afternoon.
There's no denying the reality that motivating the defending national champion is always a tough task, a task the every coach hopes to face one day. But when this team is truly focused and truly motivated, they are once again the best in all of college basketball. They are determined to win an SEC Championship, and they are off to a great start with three straight wins. Florida has a week off before hosting Ole Miss next Saturday, but this team is looking more and more like the team we thought they'd be when the year began.