for this game

Noah, Florida take care of business against Stetson

Dec 21, 2006 - 5:12 AM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Joakim Noah and reigning national champion Florida clearly were not looking ahead to their showdown with Greg Oden and Ohio State.

Noah scored 16 points to lead the fourth-ranked Gators to a 88-67 triumph over Stetson.

With the victory, Florida coach Billy Donovan became the school's all-time winningest coach. Currently in his 11th season with the Gators, Donovan improved to 236-100 in his career.

"It's great to be a part of it," Florida point guard Taurean Green said. "It's a great accomplishment for coach Donovan. He earned it. He deserved it."

It was the third consecutive win for Florida (10-2), which squares off with Oden and No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday. The Gators got off to a sluggish start defensively and actually trailed, 17-15, more than six minutes into the contest.

"If we play this way on Saturday, it's not even going to be close," Noah said. "It's going to be real ugly. There are no excuses. We didn't play with the right energy. We didn't play with the enthusiasm and intensity that we should."

The Most Outstanding Player in last season's NCAA Tournament, Noah shot 7-of-10 from the floor and was one of five Gators in double figures. The 6-11 junior also hauled in eight rebounds and dished out four assists.

Reserve Walter Hodge paced Florida with 17 points and made all five of his 3-pointers. Corey Brewer had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, Green added 11 points and eight assists and freshman Dan Werner scored 10 off the bench for the Gators, who improved to 9-0 at home this season.

"Florida is a great team," Stetson coach Derek Waugh said. "I don't think we defended very well tonight, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that Florida is good."

Florida played without star center Al Horford, who missed his second straight game with a high ankle sprain. His status for the Ohio State game is uncertain.

Garfield Blair scored 18 points and reserve Sheldon Oliver chipped in 14 for Stetson (3-8), which shot 51 percent (25-of-49) from the floor but was outrebounded, 34-20.

"It was probably the best positive-energy team spirit we have had this year," Waugh said. "I thought we had some very good individual offensive performances. Garfield Blair especially was excellent tonight."

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    STETSON 30 37 67
    FLORIDA (4) 44 44 88 FINAL

    Dec 20 8:51 PM

    STETSON 30

    Dec 20 7:45 PM