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Shorthanded Florida pounds Southern

Nov 29, 2006 - 2:17 AM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Southern has to be thankful that Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer were not feeling their best.

Al Horford and freshman center Marreese Speights scored 12 points apiece as fourth-ranked Florida overcame the sickness of some of its star players with an 83-27 victory over the Jaguars.

Coming off their first loss of the season in an overtime thriller with then-No. 12 Kansas on Saturday, the Gators played without starting forward Brewer due to mononucleosis. Noah, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, played limited minutes due to flu-like symptoms.

Brewer, who missed a chance for a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime against Kansas, is expected to miss the next two weeks.

Taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity, Speights stepped up along with fellow first-year player Brandon Powell, who went 3-of-3 on 3-pointers en route to finishing with a season-high 10 points.

Speights also had a season-high 12 rebounds and Horford added seven for the Gators, who held a 44-32 advantage on the boards and 15-6 edge in second-chance points.

Filling Brewer's spot in the starting five, sophomore guard Walter Hodge added nine points and a career-high six assists for Florida (7-1), which captured its 19th consecutive home victory against a non-conference opponent.

Leading, 34-16, at intermission, the Gators blew open the contest in the second half with a mix of sizzling offense and superb defense.

Florida, which opened the final 20 minutes with a 13-1 run, shot 70 percent (18-of-26) and held Southern (0-6) to just three field goals (3-of-21) after the break.

Along with preventing the Jaguars any clean looks, the Gators collected 10 steals, including five by Hodge. In all, Florida finished with 24 points off 24 turnovers by Southern.

Chike Ekweozor scored six points for the Jaguars, who finished 21 percent (10-of-48) from the field, including 3-of-16 on 3-pointers.

Joseph Jones and Deforest Riley-Smith had five points for Southern, who were held below 40 points for the third time this season.

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