GAME STORYGainesville, FL - Freshman Matt Walsh scored 29 points, shooting a perfect 7-of-7 from behind the three point arc and fellow freshman Anthony Roberson scored 22 to lead the University of Florida men's basketball team to a 99-64 win over Bethune-Cookman Saturday afternoon at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
"Coming into this game I was concerned, but I thought we came out with great energy," head coach Billy Donovan said. "I thought our front court came out a lot better, we shot the ball better from the three point line, we pressed a little bit better and I think we got better with our half court defense."
Walsh finished the game shooting 10-for-12 from the field, including a 17 point (6-for-8) first half performance. His perfect mark from three point range set the O'Connell Center record for three-point percentage previously held by Greg Stolt who hit .857 (6-for-7) against South Florida Dec. 10, 1996. Roberson shot 8-for-14 from the field, including two three point baskets.
"For those guys (Walsh and Roberson) to score that amount of points in such a short time, I think both guys are playing with a lot of confidence and with a lot of freedom," Donovan said. "When I see those guys with those types of shooting percentages it indicates to me that they are taking good shots."
Early in the first half, the Gators went on a 12-0 run to make the score 18-6 at the 14:40 mark, with Walsh scoring eight of the Florida's 12 points. Senior guard Justin Hamilton scored all of his 11 points during the first half, shooting 5-for-6 from the field.
To begin the second half, Walsh then made three consecutive three-point baskets to give the Gators a 67-37 lead over Bethune-Cookman. Florida went on to score 46 points off of 26 Wildcat turnovers for the game.
"I was just getting good shots and it just happened that they were three in a row," Walsh said. "If I don't think I'm going to make a shot, I won't shoot it."
The win over Bethune-Cookman is the 35th consecutive game Florida has won over a non-conference opponent at home. The win also marks the 18th consecutive win against in-state rivals.
Florida is back in action Monday, Dec. 30 as they host Florida A&M at 7 p.m. at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
TEAM & INDIVIDUAL NOTES
* Florida went on a 17-3, 5:28 run early in the first half. Eleven of the points in the run were scored by freshman Matt Walsh.
* Florida has now won 20 consecutive winter break contests.
* Florida has now won 35 consecutive games against non-conference opponents at home.
* Florida is now 5-0 against Bethune-Cookman and a perfect 9-0 against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
* Florida has now won 10 consecuitve games at home, the seventh longest home winning streak in school history.
* Florida has now won 18 consecutive games against in-state rivals.
* Florida shot .581 from the field today. It is the sixth game this season Florida has shot .500 or better.
* Florida continued its trend of hot shooting from downtown. The Gators made 12 threes today. It is the fifth time this season they have made 10 or more threes in a game. Florida is averaging more than 10 threes per game in the last seven games.
* Florida scored 46 of its points off Bethune-Cookman's 26 turnovers.
* The Gators had 20 assists today. It is the fourth time this season the Gators have dished out 20 or more assists.
* Tonight's attendance was 8,824.
* Matt Walsh hit 7-of-7 from behind the three point arc today to set the O'Connell Center record for three-point percentage. The record was previously held by Greg Stolt who hit .857 (6-of-7) against South Florida on Dec. 10, 1996.
* Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh are Florida's second pair of freshman to score 20+ points in the same game more than once in their freshman campaign. Vernon Delancy and Ronnie Williams did it four times in their freshman campaign. Florida newest freshman dynamic duo has done it twice this season. They each scored 20 points against Eastern Illinois on Nov. 21 and today Walsh had 29, while Roberson had 22.
* Matt Walsh is 19-of-20 from the free throw line in the last three games.
* Justin Hamilton is now 15-0f-18 from the floor in the last three games.
* Hamilton tied his season high in assists with seven. He has had seven assists two other times this season.
* Brett Nelson needs just five more threes to break the school record for career threes made.
* Nelson set a new season high with three steals today.
* Bonnell Colas had a season high seven points today. He also tied his season high in rebounds with three.
From Florida Players and Coaches:
Head Coach Billy Donovan
On the game:
"Coming into this game I was concerned, but we came out with great energy. I thought our front court came out a lot better than they did the last game. Obviously, we shot the ball better from the three-point line, we pressed a little bit better and I think we got better with our half court defense."
On the front court:
"I think that we have to establish more of a post-up game. David is a guy that can put the ball on the floor from the mid-post area and Matt Bonner can score down there as well. We have got to mix it up. We can not be 100 percent perimeter dominated team. I think that our low-post people can step away from the basket and do some things. We have to get those guys touches in and around the basket for them to be able to score."
On Matt Walsh and Anthony Robersons' performance:
"I look at those guys when they shoot the ball, especially Matt and Peeps (Anthony Roberson) and I am looking at shooting percentage. Peeps was 8-for-14, well over 50 percent, and Matt was obviously 10-for-12, also way over 50 percent. When I see those guys with those types of shooting percentages it indicates to me that they are taking good shots. For those guys that score that amount of points in such a short time I think both guys are playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of freedom right now and I want them to play that way. I think they are starting to understand what is a good shot and what is a bad shot. Matt, I don't know if he called bank on that last one he made there, but I'm sure he will take the three. He got into a rhythm there where he really shot it well. He made a couple back-to-back and just had big scoring offensively. I look at it a little bit differently from the standpoint that I thought Matt did a very good job defensively with his activity in the press."
Freshman Matt Walsh
On his play:
"I was just getting good shots and it just happened that they were three in a row. I felt good coming out ahead of time and I shot the ball pretty well. If I don't think I'm going to make a shot I won't shoot it. Anthony and I benefit from everyone else. Guys concentrate on Bonner, Brett Nelson and Justin and we are getting good shots everytime. The easy play is making the shots, the hard part is the guys getting us the shot."
Freshman Anthony Roberson:
On his play:
"I really don't care how Coach uses me. I know whatever way he uses me it is going to be best for the team. Coming in to give that extra lift when Coach needs me. Whenever Coach puts me in I know I have to bring some energy and bring my game to another level. I accept the role of coming off the bench and I'm loving it right now. Our team is winning and I am giving us an extra lift and strength to use."
From Bethune-Cookman Players and Coaches:
Head Coach Clifford Reed
On the game:
"My main concern is getting my team ready for conference play. I thought we played well at times and executed some of things that we needed to do offensively. But we weren't disciplined defensively and it costs us some points. We didn't get back defensively and our transition game hurt us. Florida took advantage of it."
On his team's offensive performance:
"We had four guys score in double-figures so we made our shots and we were distributing the ball well. I think we've been consistent offensively this season. We missed some open guys tonight, but we aren't far from where we want to be offensively entering conference play."
On his team's overall performance:
"You have to give Florida credit. They play hard the entire game and they try to pressure you into making mistakes. I thought my guys played hard. We could have given up when we got down early, but we kept battling and making some shots. There were some positives that we can take away from this game and we will use them to get ready for our conference season."
Forward Richard Toussaint
On the team's offensive output:
"We played pretty well offensively and we scored some points. It's great when you can get as many guys as we did scoring in double-figures. I was disappointed with our defense tonight. We need to get that corrected. If we can, then I think we will be ready for the rest of the season."
On Florida's defense:
"They are aggressive. They don't stop coming after you and they are really quick. They are going to give a lot of opponents trouble throughout the season."
COURTESY UF SPORTS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
|Michael Williams II||18||0-1||0-0||0-0||1||4||0||1||1||0||2||0|
|.458||.812||.412||Team Reb: 8||Team TO: 0|
|.581||.625||.429||Team Reb: 3||Team TO: 0|
Officials: Mike Stuart, Antinio Petty, Carlos Reyes .