Gators Hold on to Win SEC Opener

Sophomore guard Nick Calathes had 19 points and eight assists while senior guard Walter Hodge added 16 and Florida used an impressive first half to beat Mississippi 78-68 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

The Gators, who won their eighth consecutive game and 12th straight game in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, led by as many as 21 points in the first half. Florida used high pressure defense and good shooting (62 percent for the half), including eight first-half three pointers, to take a 53-39 lead going into the break.

The Rebels cut it to 75-68 on David Huertas' putback with 2 minutes remaining. But Florida (14-2, 1-0) pulled away down the stretch thanks to a steal by Calathes and four straight free throws.

Sophomore guard Chandler Parsons chipped in 12 points for the Gators. Calathes also added seven rebounds and four steals in the game.

Huertas, returning to Gainesville for the first time since transferring after the 2006 national championship, led the Rebels (9-6, 0-1) with 16 points and nine rebounds.

The Gators will be on the road in their next game as they travel to Auburn for an 8 p.m. tip-off against the Tigers on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

Courtesy UF Sports Information

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