Calathes Leads Gators Past JU

The Florida Gators got a taste of the physical clashes to come with a hard-fought 88-72 victory over the Jacksonville University Dolphins.

Donovan praised the Gators (8-1) for their offensive execution but still found plenty to criticize about their efforts on defense. The guards were forced to switch on picks and poor defensive rotation frequently put them in difficult situations, allowing the Dolphins (3-4) to make easy baskets in the post.

"This was really a great game for us to learn from and someone asked me after the Vermont game ‘Are we learning anything when we have such a wide margin of victory?'" Donovan said. "This game was a lot closer than maybe the score indicated. It was a smashmouth game."

While the Dolphins lacked size, they possessed a level of toughness and physicality that challenged the Gator's interior. Forward Marcus Allen repeatedly battled Marreese Speights for interior position and scored 16 points to go with five boards. Speights was able to match Allen with 16 points and seven of his own.

"In the first have we got man-handled down low, and the Jacksonville guards got a lot of shots off three-pointers, but we stopped that a bit in the second half," Nick Calathes said. "They did shoot more threes tonight."

Calathes had perhaps the most brilliant game of his young career with 24 points, nine assists, three rebounds and six steals. While stuffing the box score, Calathes sparked a 15-0 run by sinking a pair of three-pointers and delivering highlight reel assists to Walter Hodge on a cross-court drive and Speights on a one-handed alley oop dunk.

"That was key," Parsons said. "We had a lot of guys playing really unselfish and we got a lot of guys the ball often. We hit a lot of jump shots."

The run proved to be a crucial swing of momentum that would give the Gators a comfortable lead for the rest of the game. However, poor shooting allowed the Dolphins to match scores for most of the second half. Donovan has made a priority of playing well going into and coming out of halftime.

"Coach tells us that at the beginning and the end of the first half, that's how you change games," Calathes said.

Florida is back in action on Wednesday night when they face Florida A&M at the O'Dome at 7 p.m.

Questions or comments? Contact's Blake Bonsack

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