Nov. 17, 2000
By EDDIE PELLS
AP Sports Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Nobody said this weekend would be easy for Florida
on the basketball court, either.
Playing in their traditional opener against Florida State the night before
the big football game, the No. 11 Gators needed a career-high 27 points from
Teddy Dupay and had to fight to the finish for an 85-70 victory Friday.
Coming off a trip to the NCAA finals last season, and with memories of last
year’s 35-point romp over the Seminoles still fresh, Florida had reason to
believe it might coast through its season opener.
But these are not the same Gators, and that surely wasn’t the same Seminole
team that went 12-17 last season.
Dupay, coming off offseason surgery on his left shoulder, and Udonis Haslem
(16 points) made up for some of the scoring the Gators lost when Mike Miller
and Donnell Harvey both left as underclassmen.
But Florida took lots of quick shots and struggled to make its pressure
defense work early, as the Seminoles shot 59 percent in the first half.
Not until Dupay sandwiched two 3-pointers around a basket by Haslem, and
Brent Wright followed with four free throws, did the Gators have a lead they
could feel comfortable with, 69-56 with five minutes left.
Florida State got it down to single digits a few times after that, but never
made a serious challenge.
For all the talk of Florida’s continued great recruiting classes, the best
freshman on the floor was Florida State’s Michael Joiner. The forward from
Fayetteville, N.C., scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting and kept the Seminoles
within striking range.
It wasn’t just his shooting that was impressive. Joiner came from behind to
swat away Justin Hamilton’s dunk attempt early in the second half, sending a
charge through the crowd and giving the Seminoles an apparent boost of
Just seconds later, however, Haslem hit a short jumper and Dupay nailed a
3-pointer, his third of five from long range, and the Gators were ahead 55-47.
With football on everyone’s mind, it seemed fitting that Florida State’s
lineman-sized center, Nigel Dixon, had a good game. The 350-pound sophomore ate
up space inside and scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
But Haslem held his own. Considered one of the top big men in the nation,
thanks in part to his 27-point performance in last year’s final-round loss to
Michigan State, Haslem shot 7-for-9 and grabbed eight rebounds.
Florida freshman Orien Greene played eight minutes and didn’t score. The
Gators’ other top freshman, Bonell Colas, didn’t play. Wright finished with 15
points and Matt Bonner had 16 for Florida.
Florida State’s only returning starter, Delvon Arrington, finished with four
points and five assists, as the Seminoles lost their first season opener ever
in Tallahassee, breaking a 37-game streak.