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Horford, Florida use dominant first half to rout Jacksonville

Nov 17, 2006 - 2:07 AM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- The defending champions were in no mood to swim with the Dolphins.

Al Horford and Joakim Noah combined to score 31 of their 34 points in the first half as top-ranked Florida rolled to a 90-59 victory over Jacksonville in an intrastate mismatch.

Walter Hodge added 11 points for the Gators, who put on an offensive clinic against the Dolphins in the opening 20 minutes. Florida (3-0) ran all over Jacksonville (1-2) in the first half, shooting an astonishing 79 percent (23-of-29) to take a commanding 56-20 lead into intermission.

Still, the dominant effort left Florida coach Billy Donovan wanting more.

"We got outworked and got outhustled in the second half," Donovan said.

Florida took its first double-digit lead, 20-9, with 12:55 remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer by Hodge. That basket was part of a 20-1 run by the Gators that Horford capped with a pair of 15-foot jumpers.

Horford did most of his damage in the paint, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The 6-10 junior pulled down nine rebounds and had a pair of blocks in only 20 minutes.

Noah, the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four last season, scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He was the beneficiary of three alley-oops in the first half, including one with 2:59 left that gave Florida its 17th consecutive made basket.

Several of Noah's dunks came directly off feeds from Corey Brewer, who had almost as many assists (seven) as Jacksonville had as a team (10).

The Gators actually made 23 of their first 27 shots before missing their final two of the first half. They finished at nearly 62 percent (34-of-55) for the contest and made eight 3-pointers in running their overall winning streak to 14 games and their non-conference winning streak to 23 games.

The one negative for Florida was its 20 turnovers. The Gators committed a total of only 12 turnovers in their first two games, a pair of easy wins over Samford and North Florida.

Corey Claitt scored 16 points to lead Jacksonville, which shot just 24 percent (7-of-29) in the first half and 40 percent (20-of-50) overall.

Tyrone Curnell and Jesse Kimbrough added 10 points apiece for the Dolphins, who actually came on strong in the second half. They shot a blistering 56 percent (13-of-23) after intermission and outscored the Gators, 41-34.

"We never quit playing and hustled all night," Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren said. "I was very encouraged by the second half. We just talked to our guys at halftime about playing hard regardless of the score. When we get in an atmosphere like this, I wanted them to play as hard as they could, as smart as they could for the entire game."

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