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Dupay starts strong

The point guard boosts Florida to a season-opening win over Florida State.

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- After having surgery on a left shoulder that bothered him for much of last season, Florida junior Teddy Dupay promised he was coming back a different player.

photo
[Times photo: Kevin White]
Gators guard Teddy Dupay had his best game, scoring 27 points and leading UF to a season-opening victory.
"From the mental aspect, I'm just more at ease," he said. "I'm not feeling badly. My mind is focused on the right things."

It showed Friday night.

Dupay, playing strictly the shooting guard and not splitting time at both guard spots, scored a career-high 27 points to lead the No. 11 Gators to an 85-70 season-opening college basketball victory against a young Florida State team before a crowd of 12,055 at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

"He was the guy; he was the guy who stepped up and made every key play," FSU coach Steve Robinson said. "He made key baskets, made key free throws and he kind of killed us on a couple out-of-bounds plays."

Dupay hit 7 of his 15 shots, including 5-of-12 from three-point range, for his best offensive showing. His best was 24 points during his freshman season against Jacksonville.

The Gators needed it.

"Teddy got some looks and he's one of those guys who can really open up the game from the three-point line," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "Last year, we had a basketball team where he didn't need to do those things and that actually hurt our team. This year, we need him to take some of those shots."

While fans and pundits point to all the players back from the team that reached the NCAA championship game -- seven of their top 10 -- these are far from same old Gators.

Mike Miller, a lottery pick of the Orlando Magic, Donnell Harvey, the leading rebounder and a late first-round selection, and the graduation of sharpshooter Kenyan Weaks took 40 percent of last season's Gators offense.

"I thought we played as a very, very immature team tonight," Donovan said.

For some reason, the Gators were "three-happy," taking 18 in the first half. They also didn't get the ball inside to star junior center Udonis Haslem. He had just three shots in the first half and nine shots in the game. And they picked up fouls.

Still, the Gators opened up a 25-15 lead on a Dupay fastbreak layup with 7:35 left. But the Seminoles, a revamped bunch with the graduation of Ron Hale, formerly of Largo High, Damous Anderson, Oliver Simmons and Justin Mott, responded in a big way.

Freshman forward Michael Joiner sparked his team at both ends. He scored eight of his team-high 18 points in the opening half.

"Not bad for a freshman," Robinson said. "Considering we put the ball in his hands quite a bit tonight, he made good decisions and he made good plays and if he continues to do that, I think we've found one of those guys who can be an outstanding player."

FSU senior guard Adrian Crawford punctuated a 15-2 run with a three-pointer from in front of the Gator bench to give FSU its first lead with 3:04 left.

Senior forward Major Parker followed with a driving lay-in, and sophomore point guard Brett Nelson and sophomore forward Matt Bonner each hit three-pointers to help UF take a 37-35 halftime lead.

The Seminoles stayed close through the first 10 minutes of the second half, trailing just 62-56 thanks to Joiner and the surprisingly strong play of 6-foot-10, 360-pound sophomore Nigel Dixon. He scored all 11 of his points in the second half.

But then the Seminoles went nearly five minutes without scoring, experiencing the kind of drought so common last season. Meanwhile, Dupay hit another three-pointer and senior forward Brent Wright hit four free throws to give the Gators their largest lead at 69-56 with 5:17 remaining.

"There were a couple stretches of the game where we didn't quite make the plays we needed to make to close the gap or give ourselves a chance," Robinson said. "That was the difference in the basketball game. In those key stretches, you've got to execute your offense, you've certainly got to get some stops and hit your free throws."

Kind of like Dupay.

* * *

UP NEXT FOR FLORIDA: Florida Atlantic, 7 p.m. Nov. 27.

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