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College basketball

Florida gets out of Vandy with OT win

Anthony Roberson's basket late in regulation and Matt Walsh's big finish give the Gators a 77-74 win.

©Associated Press

February 23, 2003

NASHVILLE -- Florida senior Matt Bonner got all the help he needed from freshmen Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson.

Bonner scored all 17 of his points during the second half as No. 7 Florida avoid its second loss in Tennessee in a week, rallying to beat Vanderbilt 77-74 in overtime Saturday.

Walsh scored 19, including the last four of overtime, and Roberson made the biggest shot of the game with 4.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

"Those were two huge statements of character," Bonner said.

"(Roberson) has missed a few shots in a row, but for him to have confidence to step up and take that shot is huge. And Matt had a couple of turnovers, but he didn't hang his head."

Matt Freije scored 24 for the Commodores, who lost their fifth in a row.

"Matt Freije is a great player," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He stepped up and put that team on his back. We didn't have an answer for him."

Donovan said he was "extremely upset" at halftime because the Gators were playing as poorly as they did in losing at Tennessee last weekend.

Vanderbilt led 72-70 in overtime when Roberson hit a long 3-pointer. Russell Lakey then drove inside to give the Commodores their last lead at 74-73.

Walsh worked inside and his soft one-hander fell with 18.7 seconds left to put the Gators back up.

Vanderbilt turned it over trying to work it to Freije on the other end. Walsh picked it up, was fouled and made both free throws with 4.7 seconds left.

"They just made a play or two more than we did at the end," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We probably should have won the game in regulation."

The score was tied at 62 in regulation when Mario Moore made a 3-pointer that bounced high off the back rim before falling through, and Freije was fouled while positioning for the rebound. Bonner fouled out on the play. Freije hit one free throw to make it 66-62 with 1:55 left.

Two free throws by Walsh made it 66-64, then Roberson tied it.

"We were in deep trouble" when the 3-pointer went in and Bonner fouled out, Donovan said. "We were fortunate. Roberson's drive in regulation was as important as any play in the game."

Bonner, Florida's leading scorer at 14.6 points per game, did not score in the first half and took only three shots.

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