FLORIDA 102, LSU 70: The margin of victory is the largest for the Gators since 1993.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2002
GAINESVILLE -- It had the feel of one of those mid December games against an undermanned non-conference opponent.
But it was definitely an SEC game. Or at least it was on paper.
Shooting 60.3 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range, No. 2 Florida dominated LSU, producing career games for several players and a 102-70 victory in front of 12,447 at the O'Connell Center on Wednesday.
The 32-point victory is the largest SEC victory under coach Billy Donovan and the largest since Feb. 17, 1993, when it beat Ole Miss by 47.
"I think we played the best team in the country tonight," said LSU coach John Brady, who was ejected with 17:22 left in the game. "When they shoot the ball like that and make shots, it doesn't matter what defense you put in."
Brett Nelson hit a 3-pointer 1:13 into the game, becoming the 33rd Gator to score 1,000 points.
Nelson scored a game- and season-high 26, making 6 of 9 3-pointers.
"I've had a couple of better games, but I shot the ball really good tonight," Nelson said. "But we have to keep improving as a team. Georgia is the 22nd (ranked) team in the nation, and we have them next. So we have to move on and forget this game."
With starting guard Justin Hamilton out with a dislocated shoulder, LSU's game plan was to focus on Nelson, Matt Bonner and Udonis Haslem, taking its chances with Orien Greene.
But the Gainesville native had 14 points (5-of-8 shooting), 11 assists and just 2 turnovers.
"Orien, from start to finish, it was the best game he's played all year long," Donovan said. "(The players) realized that one man is down, and as a team, we've got to pick it up."
LSU scored just 12 points during the first 13 minutes and trailed by as many as 21 during the first half.
LSU (11-5, 1-2) was outscored 14-2 on fastbreak points in the first half and shot 10-of-24 from the field and 2-of-7 on 3-pointers.
An 18-4 run gave the Gators (15-1, 4-0) a 29-10 lead with 8:59 left in the first half. By halftime, Florida led 47-26, shooting 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.
"It was raining shots, raining 3's, and guys on the team weren't playing well," said Ronald Dupree, who led LSU with 19 points and eight rebounds. "It was hard staying focused."
Unlike previous outings, the Gators didn't play in spurts. Florida opened the second half shooting 12-of-17 from the field and did not let up.
"I felt like we played with the passion and emotion I like to see our team play with," Donovan said. "Everybody made some key plays in the game. We played well tonight, but it's one game."
It was a big night for three Gators. Greene had his first double double. Nelson scored more than 20 points for the third consecutive game, and Haslem had his seventh double double of the season with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
Florida set a school record with an 11-game SEC win streak and increased its school-record win streak to 14.