Gators Hoops Wins

Freshman forward Matt Walsh scored 26 points in his first collegiate game and senior guard Justin Hamilton added 21 to lead the No. 7 Florida Gators to a 76-55 victory over Louisiana Tech in the first round of the Preseason NIT at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

"I was very happy with the way our team played," head coach Billy Donovan said. "Obviously we got great production from Justin Hamilton and Matt Walsh. We saw some guys step up and like I said at the exhibition game, with a lot of injuries we can't wait on these freshman."

"The one thing about Matt, I thought for the most part he let the game come to him," Donovan said.

Walsh scored 10 of the Gators first 16 points and finished the first half with 17, shooting 7-of-9 from the field and connecting on 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Walsh's 26 point performance is the third-best performance by a freshman in his opening game in school history.

"I never expected to have a great game like this," Walsh said. "It was my teammates getting me good looks and getting me good passes."

Hamilton finished the game with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting and buckled down defensively with a team-high seven steals.

In the first half Walsh scored 10 of the first 16 points in the first eight minutes of the game. Sophomore center David Lee blocked three shots during the first half to set a new career high. Lee also grabbed 10 rebounds for the Gators.

Florida forced 22 Louisiana Tech turnovers, including 14 in the first half. The Gators were able to capitalize 28 points off the 22 Bulldogs turnovers while only giving up 11 points off their own miscues.

Florida opened the second half with a 10-1 run. The Gators led Louisiana Tech by as much as 27 points and held the Bulldogs without a field goal for seven minutes in the second half. Freshman guard Anthony Roberson added 13 points with seven coming in the second half.

Florida is now 60-24 all-time on opening day and 46-7 when opening the season at home.

The Gators will host Eastern Illinois in the second round of the Preseason NIT Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m.

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