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Tampa subregional

Florida: 5 keys to victory

By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2003


1. MATT BONNER BOUNCING BACK: Bonner was slowed late in the season by a heel injury, and coach Billy Donovan doubted the senior could play back-to-back games in a tournament because of it. Bonner insists he will play. But if he's not at least 90 percent, Michigan State could have a field day inside.

2. BANG THOSE BOARDS: The Spartans' top centers are 6-10 Erazem Lorbek and 6-11 Paul Davis. Aloysius Anagonye is a bruising power forward. The three combined for 33 points and 16 rebounds in Friday's 79-64 win over Colorado. UF cannot match MSU's size, but the Gators insist they have been banging with the best of them, including Kentucky, Georgia and Auburn, and will again.

3. HIT FROM THE ARC: The 3-point line is the great equalizer in the NCAA Tournament. Florida needs to do some equalizing. The Gators made 13 of 28 in Friday's opening-round 85-55 win over Sam Houston State. At least one of Florida's guards has to get hot tonight from outside. If not, the season's over.

4. GET THE BENCH INVOLVED EARLY: MSU played four players 30 minutes or more against Colorado. Only two off the bench had double-digit minutes. Donovan has talked about pressing and running more in the tournament. The Gators could go nine deep and share the burden of playing a physical MSU team. A good bench can dent a strong starting five.

5. SOMEBODY WAKE UP THE CROWD: The St. Pete Times Forum wasn't a House of Horrors, as UF calls its home court in Gainesville. Fans seemed to be yawning while Sam Houston State's 75 or so backers were constantly on their feet yelling. Wasn't "pod" seeding supposed to create more of a home environment for higher seeds?

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