This one was kinda simple to evaluate. Both coaches said so.
Florida, ranked No. 7 this week, beat Ole Miss 69-58 – because Billy Donovan said his team made shots, and Rod Barnes said his team made too many turnovers.
"We were coming off two straight road losses and had two usual starters out," said Donovan – missing from his lineup were the team's top defender and 3-point shooter Lee Humphrey and also Corey Brewer, who actually played 18 minutes off the bench but didn't score.
"So I really didn't know what to expect tonight. This is a very difficult place to win. It's a hard place to play. The reason we won is that we made our free throws and we made shots from the field. If you do that on the road, you have a chance to win."
Donovan's Gators shot 54 percent (23-of-43) from the field and were 17-of-18 (94 percent) from the free throw line.
"I'm really disappointed we didn't play better," said Barnes, whose team committed 19 turnovers in the game, some of them unforced, a disturbing trend that is hindering his team from having an opportunity to win games. "Our biggest problem has become our turnovers. We had some rebounding problems, but I think we've taken care of that (UM outrebounded UF 31-23). But we've got to take better care of the basketball. We did some good things in the game, but not enough to win against a really good basketball team."
The Rebels hung close in the first half and also had a shot to close the gap at game's end. They led 12-10 on a couple of Dwayne Curtis free throws with 12:54 to go in the first half. The Gators led by only a point (25-24) with 3:40 to go in the opening half after a Trey Hampton putback slam for the Rebels.
But the Gators quickly stretched the lead to 10 points at 36-26, and only a last-second fall-away 3-pointer by Clarence Sanders pulled Ole Miss to within seven points at 36-29 at intermission.
The Rebels had committed 10 of their 19 turnovers in the first half.
The first nine minutes of the second half belonged to the Gators. With just over 11 minutes left, their lead had swelled to 53-38, and things looked bleak for the Rebels, playing at home before 7,031 fans.
But slowly and methodically the Rebs crept back in it. When Jermey Parnell scored on a layup following a Bam Doyne steal, the Rebels had cut it to eight points at 55-47 with 8:13 remaining.
Trailing just 61-54, the Rebs got a break when Londrick Nolen stole it but Doyne turned it over as a Gator stepped in front of an alley-oop pass that would have cut the UF lead to five.
That actually happened moments later as Florida turned it over on its next possession, and a Sanders dunk off a fast break made it 61-56 with 1:37 to go.
Florida's Walter Hodge scored on a layup on the Gators' next possession for a 63-56 UF lead. From then on it was all free throws for the visitors as the Rebels fouled to try to get the ball back. Florida was 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the deal.
"You can't make the mistakes we made against one of the top 10 teams in the country and expect to win," said Barnes, whose team lost its fourth straight game to fall to 13-7 overall and 3-4 in Southeastern Conference play. "You can't give up some of the baskets we give up either. What we needed to do in this game and also in the LSU game (a 79-73 loss to the Tigers last Saturday) was to make them beat us, to deny them the ball, to block out, to take care of the basketball. And in a lot of areas we did not do that. You can't win in this league against these type teams if you don't."
Donovan, whose team is now 19-2 overall and 5-2 in SEC play, said he thought Ole Miss was doing some good things and would continue to improve.
"Ole Miss is a lot like us," he said. "They have a lot of new players. When you face so many defenses in this league and at this level, it takes time and experience to get things right. What Rod is doing is good, in my opinion. With Curtis inside, what they do causes problems for a team. Their ball movement has always been good. I've always respected Rod's teams for that. It will just take them some time to continue to get better."
Ole Miss shot 46 percent (24-of-52) from the field, and was 8-of-15 from the free throw line. The Rebels were just 2-of-13 from 3-point range; the Gators 6-of-15.
Sanders paced the Rebels with 16 points, while Trey Hampton came off the bench to score 11.
Taurean Green had 17 to lead the Gators.
The Rebels' next action is at Tennessee in a Jefferson-Pilot TV game Saturday at 3 p.m. Florida hosts Kentucky Saturday night.
Rebels fall to Gators 69-58
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