No. 13 Florida crushes No. 22 Texas A&M
Billy Donovan leaped along the sideline, arms raised and fingers spread, trying to help his Florida Gators get the ball back.
”Ten! Ten!” he shouted, lobbying for a 10-second violation.
Donovan’s team led by 20 points at the time, but for the high-scoring Gators there are always more baskets to be made.
Launching three-pointers early and often, No. 13 Florida built a double-digit lead after 6 1/2 minutes and never let it go, beating No. 22 Texas A&M 84-64 Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic.
Kenny Boynton sank six three-pointers, scored 22 points and was voted the game’s most valuable player. Erving Walker had 16 points and six assists, while Bradley Beal added 16 points of his own.
Florida (8-2) won for the first time in three games this season against teams in the Top 25. Texas A&M (8-2) had a six-game winning streak snapped.
The Gators came into the game leading the nation in three-pointers and ranked third in scoring, and they showed why from the start, taking leads of 7-0, 18-2 and 35-14.
”I thought the first half was the best we’ve played all year,” Donovan said. ”We shared it. We passed it. We moved it. We had inside-outside action.”
At halftime it was 50-25, with Florida outscoring Texas A&M 21-0 from three-point range. The Gators’ scoring spree came against an Aggies team that had been allowing only 51.4 points per game.
”Offensively they’re so good, with Walker creating so many opportunities, and with Boynton shooting the ball like that,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. ”They’re very difficult to guard, and we couldn’t slow them down.”
Boynton, a native of nearby Pompano Beach, had plenty of supporters in the crowd of 11,262.
”It’s always great to come back home and have this performance,” he said. ”But I’m happier that we got the win.”
Turnovers hurt the Aggies early, as they went eight minutes before making their first basket.
”In the first half we were playing on our heels too much, and playing kind of timid,” Aggies guard Elston Turner said. ”That’s what caused them to throw that first punch and get out to that big lead.”
Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton, playing in his second game after being sidelined with a knee injury, shot only 5 for 18. He scored just 12 points, but added seven rebounds and seven assists.
David Loubeau, a native of nearby Miami, scored 20 points for the Aggies. Turner also had 20.
Erik Murphy scored 13 for the Gators, including seven of their first nine points.
The Gators’ victory came one day after they announced a three-year extension for Donovan through 2015-16. Florida’s only losses have been to No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Ohio State.
The Gators finished just under their scoring average of 86.8 points per game. More than half their shots came from three-point range, and they made 11 of 31.
The margin reached 26 points early in the second half before the Gators cooled off. They shot only 39 percent after halftime, and the Aggies cut the margin to 73-61 with 2:12 left.
Texas A&M’s comeback bid ended when Walker sank a three, then made two free throws.
”I thought it was an OK second half at best, and we still scored 84 points,” Donovan said.
The Aggies missed their first seven shots. By the time Middleton scored their first basket, Florida had seven field goals, including a pair of threes.
The Gators increased their lead to 37-16, with 15 of those points coming off turnovers.
”They did a really good job of speeding us up and getting us out of our tempo,” Kennedy said. ”Their quickness and athleticism gave us a lot of problems.”