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UF recovers from its fall

Associated Press
Published December 21, 2003

MIAMI - Matt Walsh found ways to score.

After struggling from the field in consecutive losses to Maryland and Louisville, Walsh scored 17 to help No.15 Florida rebound with a 70-57 victory over West Virginia on Saturday night in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Walsh was 4-of-21 shooting in the two losses, including 1-of-9 from 3-point range. He wasn't much better against West Virginia, missing four of five shots from behind the arc, but he was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and had eight rebounds, six steals and five assists.

"I don't want to let shooting affect the rest of my game," Walsh said. "If I did I wouldn't be on the court."

The Gators used a 20-1 run early in the second half to overcome a six-point halftime deficit and win for the fifth time in five seasons in the event.

It was a much-needed win after two humbling losses as the nation's top-ranked team.

Florida was No.1 a week ago, but losses to Maryland and Louisville dropped it in the Associated Press poll. Coach Billy Donovan said his team probably wasn't deserving of the No.1 ranking, adding the young Gators still were adjusting to more demanding offensive roles.

They seemed at ease with them Saturday.

David Lee got most of his points in the lane, Walsh got to the free-throw line and was 8-for-8 and Christian Drejer was accurate from long range. Drejer finished with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting that included 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line.

West Virginia led 42-38 early in the second half, but the Gators sparked a run with a half-court trap and effective man-to-man defense. The Mountaineers opened the second half with nine turnovers and seven points in five minutes.

West Virginia, which was led by Drew Schifino's 15 points, had 14 of its 17 turnovers in the second half and went nearly 11 minutes without a field goal.

"It was just fluky things that just mushroomed," Mountaineers coach John Beilein said. "I thought we were a beautiful team in the first half, then all of a sudden we were an ugly team."

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