Gators roll over Texas A&M
Florida hosts Missouri Saturday
Florida coach Billy Donovan thought his team could be great defensively entering this season.
So far the Gators are proving him right.
Mike Rosario scored 19 points and Patric Young added 18 as No. 10 Florida cruised to a 68-47 victory over Texas A&M on Thursday night.
The Aggies led by one point midway through the first half before a big run by the Gators gave them a 35-18 halftime lead, and they didn't let up in the second half.
It was a letdown for Texas A&M (12-4, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), which was coming off an 83-71 victory at Kentucky on Saturday. Elston Turner scored a career-high 40 points in that win, but managed just four points Thursday on 1-of-10 shooting.
"We as a coaching staff have made some adjustments on things and we've done some different things that has helped," Donovan said of improving the defense. "You can give them facts and show them where they need to get better and why."
The Gators were proud of their defense on Turner, who entered the game averaging 17.1 points a game.
"We just didn't give him a chance to do what he wanted to do," Young said. "We made him really uncomfortable. Being able to limit a guy that just scored 40 points in his last game was huge."
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy knows it's difficult for Turner with A&M not having another major scoring threat to take pressure off him.
"Their team defense was good," Kennedy said. "He's also had nights like that. When you have one primary scorer against a good defensive team ... they just physically wore him down and did a good job on him."
It is the fifth straight win for Florida (13-2, 3-0) which is in the midst of playing four of five games on the road.
Jordan Green had 12 points for the Aggies, while J'Mychal Reese added 10.
Texas A&M scored five straight points, capped by a layup by Kourtney Roberson, to take a 14-13 lead about 9:30 before halftime.
The Gators answered with a 22-4 run over the rest of the first half to take a 35-18 lead. Erik Murphy scored seven points in that span, including a 3-pointer, and Young had six points capped by a dunk to help the run.
Murphy finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
The Aggies had four turnovers and missed seven shots, including two layups in that span.
"They're very, very hard to guard," Kennedy said. "But I think people don't give them enough credit for their defense."
Florida entered the game ranked third in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 52 points a game. Things were no different on Thursday as they limited A&M to a season-low in points on 34 percent shooting.
The Gators have held eight opponents to less than 50 points this season, and 11 to less than 60.
Florida was playing without Casey Prather, who is out 10 to 14 days with a high-ankle sprain. But they were helped by the return of Rosario, who missed a win over LSU on Saturday with a sprained left ankle.
Rosario said he planned to play regardless of how his ankle felt Thursday.
"It felt good out there," he said. "It felt how it was supposed to feel. I was going to go out there anyway, whether it was 80 percent or 60 percent and thankfully it was 110 percent for my team tonight."
The Gators scored the first four points of the second half to extend their lead to 21 points and the Aggies never got closer than 18 points the rest of the way.
A 3-pointer by Alex Caruso get A&M within 46-28 with about 12 minutes remaining. Florida used an 8-0 run after that to extend the lead to 54-28.
Young liked that Florida didn't let up once it built the lead.
"You want to step on the gas," he said. "You don't want to give a team hope that they can come back into the game."
Texas A&M had a crowd of more than 11,000, which included Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. It was loud early in the game, but Florida's run in the first half quickly quieted the group.
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