Anthony Roberson struggles in start for Brett Nelson, but Matt Bonner outscores New Orleans in the first half.
By JILL MARTIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 18, 2003
GAINESVILLE -- Saying that the Gators' nonconference matchup against New Orleans was a mismatch isn't strong enough.
It was ridiculous.
The scoreboard operator wasn't even paying attention near the end of the game and the final score was incorrect by two points.
And late in the first half, fans in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center began to chant, "Bonner's winning," for Matt Bonner outscoring the Privateers 22-19 by halftime.
With Bonner's first-half shooting and UF's defense, the No. 7 Gators routed the Privateers 77-48 Monday night.
The Gators (21-4) have won 36 in a row against nonconference teams at home, their last loss against Georgetown on March 11, 1998.
Florida tied a school record for consecutive home wins with 18.
Coach Billy Donovan said he was pleased with his team mixing things up, hitting 10 of 21 3-pointers and shooting 50 percent.
"I was really disappointed with the way we played offensively (against Tennessee on Saturday) as far as just different physical things that we need to do," Donovan said. "I think those guys would tell you after watching the film that they'd agree with me.
"I talked to those guys that there's a fine line between being good and great. To be considered a great team you have to be able to do little things."
Trying to motivate guard Brett Nelson, who had made 19 straight starts, Donovan started freshman Anthony Roberson.
Nelson, who had back spasms last week, struggled during his five minutes in the first half, missing his only shot in the first half and committing two turnovers.
In the second half he scored six on two 3-pointers.
Nelson was unavailable for comment.
Donovan said it wasn't the Tennessee loss that put Nelson (1-for-6 Saturday) on the bench.
"He's just not playing like I would like him to play," said Donovan, who earlier in the season wanted to start Roberson for Justin Hamilton, but Roberson insisted he continue coming off the bench. "I brought Anthony Roberson in and basically told him, 'You don't have a voice in this matter right now. This is what you're going to do and I'm hoping it will get Brett going.' I didn't think Brett played great in the first half. It's tough for him right now with the back issue he's dealing with."
Roberson went 1-for-9 from the field, scoring two. In the past three games, Roberson is 5-for-30.
Bonner scored 11 of Florida's first 13. He finished with 24 and seven rebounds, and Matt Walsh had 12 points and four assists.
"I'd love to take all the credit but I was just hitting open shots, and there's not much to that except being able to shoot," Bonner said.
New Orleans (13-11) had few good looks and shot 26.8 percent. After a Hector Romero dunk in the opening minute, the Privateers were scoreless from the field for more than seven minutes.
Florida backup forward Adrian Moss had the stomach flu and did not play.