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Speights keeps growing, newly-ranked UF romps
By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
Published November 21, 2007
GAINESVILLE - Marreese Speights can't figure out what was wrong with him the first couple of games when he didn't play defense the way his team needed. Whatever it was, he seems to have figured it out.
The sophomore center scored a career-high 20 and grabbed 12 rebounds to help lead No.25 Florida to a 102-51 win over North Florida Tuesday night at the O'Connell Center. Speights, a St. Petersburg native, was among six Gators who scored in double figures.
"I'm just really going hard right now," said Speights, who played just 16 minutes. "The first couple of games I don't know what was wrong with me. But I'm playing hard right now and it's helping our team win."
Playing its first game as a ranked team this season, the Gators (5-0) led 59-22 at halftime after shooting 61.5 percent from the field, led by 14 points from junior guard Walter Hodge. In the first four minutes, Florida shot 71.4 percent from the field, 60 percent from 3-point range and took a 15-4 lead.
North Florida (1-3) scored the opening basket, then went without a field goal from 19:09 to 12:58. The Ospreys were called for 19 fouls in the half and Florida made 19 of 26 free throws.
The Gators play just their second game against a team from a major conference when they host Florida State at 8 Friday night.
"Florida State, of our six games, is probably the most talented team we'll face and we'll find out a little bit more about our team," coach Billy Donovan said.
B-BALL NOTES: With one day remaining in the national signing period, Florida closed out its 2008 men's recruiting with five new players and the No.1 class in the SEC and No.5 in the nation, according to Rivals.com.
The Gators received letters of intent from 6-foot-10 forward Eloy Vargas (American Heritage HS/Plantation/Dominican Republic); 6-foot-8 Allan Chaney (New London HS/New London, Conn.); 6-foot-10 center Kenny Kadji (IMG Academy and Pendleton School/Bradenton/Cameroon); and guards Ray Shipman (Monsignor Pace HS/Miramar) and Erving Walker (Christ the King HS/Brooklyn, N.Y.).
"We're very excited about this year's recruiting class," Donovan said. "We felt like we had to address some areas with the early departures we had last year, and were able to do that with some size in the frontcourt, while adding quality players to the backcourt and perimeter as well."