By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 25, 2002
GAINESVILLE -- Florida invited Coastal Carolina into its home Sunday afternoon, introduced its newest family members, then proceeded to play host to an old-fashioned blowout.
Playing nearly the final eight minutes with five freshmen, the Gators defeated the Chanticleers 88-45 in front of 8,488 at the O'Connell Center.
It was as if eighth-ranked Florida (3-0) needed one last scrimmage before heading to New York for a Preseason NIT semifinal against Stanford.
"They're awful good," Coastal Carolina coach Pete Strickland said. "Awful being how I feel, good being how they are. ... We tried to find a little chink in their armor, but they were wearing a full metal jacket."
For the second straight game, Florida's freshmen led the way, scoring 66. Guard Anthony Roberson scored 26 in 30 minutes, and forward Matt Walsh added 19. Center Mario Boggan had a game-high eight rebounds. Sophomore David Lee had 16 points and seven rebounds.
"It was a good team effort," coach Billy Donovan said. "Certainly there will be bigger challenges come Wednesday in New York. These first three games, having a young team that is inexperienced, I think we have really learned a little bit more about ourselves. It will be different in New York, but we needed to focus on today and taking care of today's game."
It was clear from the start that Florida wouldn't have any trouble focusing. The Gators shot 58 percent in the first half (50 percent for the game) and held Coastal Carolina (1-1) to 17 points. Torrey Butler, the Chanticleers' leading scorer (averaging 21) was held to four in the first half, then led Coastal Carolina scorers with 17.
Florida outrebounded Coastal Carolina 43-25 and held it to 35 percent shooting.
Senior forward Matt Bonner played 18 minutes, scoring four with four rebounds. Bonner fell on his lower back after taking a hard foul midway through the first and had back spasms. He returned but sat out the final 15 minutes.
Florida plays Stanford at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
"Personally, I'm ready to play," Roberson said. "I am ready to take every challenge I can. I am ready to get to New York and play the teams that are supposed to be elite and supposed to be the best. It is really going to be a test to see where we are."