Men's hoops fall to top-ranked Gators, 90-61

Nov. 16, 2006

Box Score

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The defending national champions wowed the crowd at the O'Connell Center on Thursday night, hitting 17 straight shots in the first half as Florida cruised to 90-61 win over Jacksonville.

The Dolphins (1-2) were able to outscore the Gators in the second half, after trailing 56-20 at the intermission. JU put up 41 points in the second stanza while the Gators were held to just 34.

Florida (3-0) had three players score in double figures, led by Al Horford's 18 and Joakim Noah's 16, with Walter Hodge adding 11 off the bench.

For the Dolphins, two of the three players in double figures were freshmen, led by Corey Claitt's 16. Senior Jesse Kimbrough added 10 points while Tyrone Curnell came off the bench with 10, all coming in the second half.

"We never quit playing and hustled all night," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "I was very encouraged by the second half. We just talked to our guys at halftime about playing hard regardless of the score. When we get in an atmosphere like this, I wanted them to play as hard as they could, as smart as they could for the entire game."

The first half was all Gators, all the time. Florida only missed six shots in the half, hitting 23-of-29. The Gators went more than 14 minutes without missing a shot, hitting 17 straight during that span. Florida's last miss before the final minute came at the 15:09 mark.

But the second half belonged to the Dolphins. JU opened the second half with a 10-2 run to cut the lead back to 28 just six minutes into the second half.

The Dolphins offense came alive in the second half, hitting 13-of-23 from the floor (56.5 percent), in part because the defense forced 10 turnovers with JU converting those into 16 points.

Freshmen Ben Smith, who was held scoreless in the first half, added seven points and finished the game with five assists. As a team, the Dolphins forced 20 turnovers and picked 11 steals - four by Kimbrough - giving JU its third straight game in which they recorded double figures in steals.

"We got out worked and out hustled in the second half," said Florida head coach Billy Donovan.

After a hectic first week of action, the Dolphins will take some time off to refocus for their next game at home against Florida Tech. Tipoff is set for Noon in a "Business Man's Special" on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.