Donovan Grabs 300th Win

In the last two seasons, the Florida Gators routinely had its five starters score in double figures. That kind of balanced scoring has become a key characteristic of a Billy Donovan coached team.

Slowly, this year's Gator basketball team is beginning to resemble the teams of the last two seasons in their unselfish play, and their 88-63 win at the O'Connell Center on Saturday night was a perfect example of that. All five starters scored in double figures, and nine different players scored.

Marreese Speights led the Gators with his first double-double of the season, grabbing 12 rebounds to go with a game-high 18 points. Speights went 9-of-15 from the floor and blocked a shot, helping the Gators to their fourth straight win.

"I just went into the game thinking that I needed to play well in order for us to win," Speights said. "My team got me the ball and we came out with the win."

Speights wasn't the only Gator to have a double-double. Dan Werner scored 10 points, tying his career-high and also pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds.

"Werner and Marreese really did a good job upfront," Billy Donovan said. "It was good for us to be able to do it physically against a Big East caliber team."

The Gators dominated the Scarlet Knights on the glass, outrebounding them 43-28 and holding them to less than 45 percent shooting from the floor. Although the stats look good, the defensive effort was inconsistent. The two teams exchanged baskets for much of the first 15 minutes before Florida began to pull away just before the half.

"We didn't do a great job to start," Donovan said. "We were exchanging baskets. Then we were able to make some stops, and we were able to get out in transition."

In the final 5:50 of the first half, the Gators went on a 17-2 run after the two teams were tied at 31. Walter Hodge, who finished with 14 points, hit a pair of threes during the stretch, helping the Gators to a 48-33 halftime lead. On the night, the Gators were 11-of-26 from behind the arc. Rutgers made just four threes on the night.

"It appeared they wanted us to make shots over the top and we made three-point shots," Donovan said. "The difference in the game and the reason why there was such a point differential was because we made so many more threes than they did. The other factor was that for the most part we kept them off the free throw line."

In addition to their hot outside shooting, Florida also did a nice job of sharing the ball, dishing out 15 assists. Jai Lucas led the Gators with five assists to go with his career-high 15 points.

"They are doing a great job of being unselfish and passing the ball like last year," Hodge said. "Once they completely figure it out, we're going to be really good."

"I think they're starting to understand what were trying to do," Donovan said. "We moved the ball very well. I thought we were very unselfish."

Free Throws…

  • With the win, Donovan notched his 300th career victory. Said Donovan, "I feel very fortunate and blessed to be here at Florida. It's not really me. It doesn't happen without the University of Florida and the administration and the players that played here. We've had some good high quality people here. It's not really me, it's the school and the commitment of the kids."
  • Nick Calathes scored 11 points, but struggled from the outside, making just 1-of-5 from behind the arc.
  • Jonathan Mitchell hit his first three-pointer of the season and finished with five points. He also grabbed three rebounds.
  • The Rowdy Reptiles gave Werner a hard time at the beginning of the season because of his shooting woes, but after posting a double-double on Saturday, he received a standing ovation after the game. Said Werner, "The way I was playing those first exhibition games, I wasn't doing the right things, so maybe it was a little bit of a wake up call for me. Those fans, though, are behind you no matter what you do."


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