Gators Handle Florida A&M With Ease

The Gators wrapped up their pre-Sec play this evening against the Florida A&M Rattlers at the O'Connell Center. The Gators came away with an easy victory, winning 91-58. Inside is the game story and quotes.

Florida 91, Florida A&M 58

Gainesville, FL - Senior Matt Bonner scored a team-high 18 points and sophomore David Lee added a double-double as the University of Florida men's basketball team defeated Florida A&M 91-58 Monday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

"In the second half I thought our team came out and played very unselfishly," head coach Billy Donovan said. "I thought our ball movement was very good and we played much better on defense which allowed us to get out on the break."

Lee recorded the second double-double of his career tonight with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Lee also contributed five assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

"The thing that is great about David is that he has such a good feel of how to play. When he catches the basketball he can get to the rim or he can find people," Donovan said. "I thought he was one of the reasons why we jumped out to a great lead in the second half because he dominated the backboard."

Florida held Florida A&M without a field goal for the first 5:20 of the second half, outscoring the Rattlers 19-2 in the first six minutes of the second half. Bonner came out in the second half and scored 10 of Florida's first 19 points as the Gators raced to a 59-30 lead. Bonner hit a season-high of four three pointers.

Senior guard Brett Nelson scored a season-high 11 points, marking the first double figure scoring output of the season. Senior Justin Hamilton moved into a tie for 10th place with Ronnie Montgomery with 138 career steals with his only steal of the night. Freshman forward Matt Walsh added 12 points for the Gators.

With the win the Gators tied a school record with most wins before entering SEC conference play and set a new school record with most wins before New Years Day. Florida has now won 11 consecutive games at home and 19 consecutive games against in-state rivals.

Florida travels to Mississippi State Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN. The Gators will return home on Saturday, Jan. 11 as they host Georgia at 3 p.m. on Jefferson Pilot.

Quotes from Today's Game:

Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan

On the game:

"I thought coming in with great intensity and emotion was going to be key and I thought our guys really did that about the first 12 minutes of the game. I was really happy with the way we were playing. Once we were up by 16 I thought our basketball team really reverted to just trying to rely on their own individual talents to score. I think that we let a 16 point lead, and really an opportunity to go up by 25, slip right by the waste-side. In the second half I thought our basketball team came out and played very unselfishly. I thought our ball movement was very good. I thought we played much better defense which allowed us to get out on the break. Also to have 25 assists in the game, I was very pleased. Outside of about eight minutes or so, I thought our guys came out really focused and prepared to play. I was pleased with the way we came out tonight."

On Florida A&M:

"Coming in and playing A&M, one of the concerns I had was that they play with great intensity, they play very hard, they have a great three point shooting team and a very good front court player in [Jermaine] Hill."

On David Lee's performance:

"The thing that is great about David is that he has such a good feel of how to play that when he catches the basketball he can get to the rim or he can find people. Tonight he was finding people. I thought even late in the game against Bethune-Cookman he went inside and established a good lead. He has got to touch the ball on a regular basis, even if it's not for scoring, he just makes things happen with his quickness and his ball handling. I thought he was one of the reasons why we jumped out to a great lead in the second half is because I thought he dominated the backboard to start the second half."

Florida Sophomore David Lee

On tonight's game:

"Tonight I was most happy with my rebounding. That's something I concentrated on going into the game and I think I really helped our team a lot by dominating the boards. I think, like coach said, the most important thing is that we are really starting to buy into playing as a team. We had talked about at halftime that we had jacked up like 18 threes, and that's awesome because we've got great shooters. There's no doubt about that, we've got some of the best shooters in the country. The problem is that come SEC time in a game when you might go cold, we could really run into some problems. I think the way we distributed the ball was the thing I was most happy about in tonight's game."

Florida Senior Brett Nelson:

On his play:

"It felt great to finally knock down a few shots in the game. It felt good to knock down some shots."

Florida A&M Head Coach Mike Gillespie

On the game:

"I thought we played pretty well in the first half. I was pleased with our play, but I was disappointed with out play in the second half. We have played Xavier, Cincinnati and Oregon on the road and I must say that this is the best team that we have played. They have a lot of scorers and they are aggressive at the defensive end."

On getting ready for conference play:

"Thank God I don't have to play anymore guarantee games. I'm ready to start playing competition that is on our level. We are 3-1 against teams that are our caliber level of competition and that is how I want people to grade our team. It's great to play teams like Florida and Oregon, because they serve as great experience for our kids and our program. Florida is the only in-state school that will play us and I'm grateful that Billy (Donovan) would do that. I respect him and I'm glad that he gives us the opportunity to come down here and play in a great venue like this. But I'm definitely ready to play in the MEAC. I think our non-conference schedule has gotten us ready for our conference schedule."

On playing in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center:

"This is an outstanding place to play in. This place and the one in Oregon are outstanding places to watch a college basketball game. The crowd was loud even though the game was out of reach late. But they stay involved in the game and keep their team going. I didn't know that when they score 90 points and win, they get a free Big Mac from McDonald's. If I would have known, I would have had the shooter fouled when he was taking the three to top the mark (laughter). But in all honesty, this is a fun place to play basketball. I can just imagine how loud it can get when a great SEC team comes in here to play."

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