Men's Hoops Rolls Over South Carolina 96-63

The Gators shot 78 percent from the field in the second half, including 8-of-10 from three-point range as they rolled to an easy 96-63 win over South Carolina Tuesday night in front of 11,699 fans at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The win sets a new school record with 19 consecutive home wins.

"I thought from an offensive and defensive team effort that it was the best performance we've had all year," head coach Billy Donovan said. "I told my guys in the locker room that this was the way that I envisioned our basketball team playing. It was one of those nights where we were really clicking on all cylinders."

Tonight's 33-point victory was the most under Donovan in SEC play and the 61 points Florida scored in the second half was the most points scored in a half against an SEC team under Donovan. Also, Florida shot 64.2 percent from the field, marking the best percentage under Donovan.

"I thought from an offensive standpoint in the second half that we were very unselfish," Donovan said. "Anytime you score 61 points in the second half against an SEC school, that's saying something about the way these guys played."

Six Gators scored in double figures as senior forward Matt Bonner led Florida with 18 points, including 14 in the second half. Bonner went 7-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 from three point range in just 18 minutes of play.

"It was just a matter of executing on offense, being unselfish and making the extra pass," Bonner said. "It was definitely a lot of fun tonight. Everyone was part of it tonight."

Sophomore center David Lee scored 14 points (6-of-7) and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Senior guard Justin Hamilton had 12 points, shooting 5-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from three point range. Hamilton has made 11 of his last 18 shots from three-point range for Florida.

"Tonight was a step in the right direction," Hamilton said. "We just need to continue to improve and keep our focus on defense and rebounding, because our offense will take care of itself provided guys make the extra pass."

Freshman Christian Drejer came off of the bench to contribute 10 points, four assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes of play. Freshman guard Anthony Roberson also added 10 for the Gators.

Florida had a slow start to begin the game, as they shot missed their first five shots. The Gators made their first bucket at the 16:28 mark as freshman guard Anthony Roberson hit a three-point shot. Drejer came into the game with 15:21 left in the first half and scored on a driving layup to put Florida up 5-4. Bonner made the next two baskets, but South Carolina's Chuck Eidson made a jumper and was fouled by Bonner, who was called for his second personal foul. Eidson made the three-point play to tie the game, and Bonner went to the bench at the 12:58 mark. The Gamecocks tied the game at 11, but never led again as the Gators went on a 16-6 run the last six minutes to go into the locker room up 35-23 at the half.

Florida held South Carolina to 35.7 percent (10-of-28) from the field, including 0-of-5 from behind the arc. After scoring 22 points in their first meeting against Florida, Gamecock's center Tony Kitchings was held to only four points (2-of-6), which all came in the first half.

In the second half, Florida came out strong as they hit eight of their first 10 shots, including a perfect 4-of-4 from three point range. After only playing five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, Bonner came out strong as he made six of the Gators first eight points. Bonner picked up his third foul on an offensive foul call just three minutes into the second half, sending him back to the bench. Florida then went on a 7-0 run as Roberson hit a three and junior Bonell Colas made 3-of-4 from the line. In his 10 minutes of play in the second half Colas scored all 11 of his points, after shooting a perfect 4-of-4 from the field. Florida finished the last five minutes of the game on a 16-7 run as freshman center Mario Boggan hit a layup and fellow freshman Rashid Al-Kaleem hit a three to end the game 96-63.

Colas finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The Gators defense also held South Carolina's leading scorer, Carlos Powell, to six points, after averaging 13.0 points per game, and Eidson to only five points.

Florida now holds a 25-17 all-time record against South Carolina and a 19-7 record since the Gamecock's joined the SEC.

The Gators will hit the road as they make their first stop in Auburn, Ala. to take on the Tigers Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m. Florida will then travel to Athens, Ga. Tuesday, March 4 to take on the Georgia Bulldogs at 9 p.m. The Auburn game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot Sports and the Georgia game will be on ESPN.


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