Nov 16, 2001
By EDDIE PELLS
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For a change, it was Billy Donovan, not Steve Spurrier, complaining about the kind of offense on display at FLORIDA.
Thanks to 18 points from Udonis Haslem, the sixth-ranked Gators overcame an ugly shooting night Friday to beat FLORIDA STATE 68-47, and stay in command of the basketball side of this in-STATE rivalry.
The Gators (2-1) won their fourth straight over the Seminoles (0-1) in this, their annual hoops meeting on the night before the two football teams play.
A victory, however, couldn’t hide the truth: Offense like this doesn’t cut it with FLORIDA’s perfectionist coaches, whether it’s Spurrier on the football field, or Donovan on the basketball court.
“Certainly, we didn’t score at the rate or execute at the rate I’d like to see,” Donovan said. “There’s a lot I’m not happy with. There was a lot of carelessness.”
It was on greatest display during a 10-minute stretch in the first half in which FLORIDA managed just one basket. That stretch coincided with Brett Nelson’s extended stay on the bench with two fouls.
Nelson scored 11 of his 16 points in the first eight minutes to help the Gators to a 25-13 lead. FLORIDA STATE never cut the deficit below 10 after that.
But this was nothing to celebrate for FLORIDA – not after committing 17 turnovers, and not after shooting 16-for-45 from the field over the final 30 minutes.
“It got to a point in the game where we weren’t playing FSU, we were playing to improve ourselves,” Haslem said.
Partly because of FLORIDA’s defense, and partly because of their own sloppiness, the Seminoles committed 30 turnovers, 17 of them in the first half.
FLORIDA STATE had trouble getting into its offensive sets. For most of the game, its offense was an ugly display of bad passes, forced shots and offensive fouls.
Delvon Arrington led the Seminoles with 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting. Antwuan Dixon was the only other FLORIDA STATE player in double figures, with 10 points. The Seminoles shot 12-for-46, a paltry 26 percent.
At one point in the second half, coach Steve Robinson got so fed up, he cleared his bench, substituting for all five starters at the same time. FLORIDA STATE played better, and cut a 19-point deficit to 13, but the Seminoles never really got back in the game.
“We’ve got to shoot the ball better to win this kind of game,” Robinson said. “It was the first game out. We were a little out of sync, but we still have the capability of doing good things.”
This is an important season for Robinson, the fifth-year coach who fell to 52-68 at FSU and is coming off a 9-21 season, the program’s worst since 1958-59.
The Gators, meanwhile, have Final Four hopes, although the preseason optimism took a hit last week in New York, where they split two games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, beating Temple and losing to Arizona.
The Gators are depending heavily this season on two freshmen, David Lee and James White. After a good start in New York, the two combined for one point in 37 minutes against the Seminoles.
“They’re freshmen,” Donovan said. “They go to New York. They show they have outstanding talent. They might think things are going to get better and better and go through the roof, but it doesn’t work that way. It was probably good for them.”
Junior forward Matt Bonner had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Gators. Justin Hamilton, back this year after missing most of last season with a knee injury, had 10 points and five assists.