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Florida routs Tennessee for 14th straight win

Feb 4, 2007 - 1:50 AM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Top-ranked Florida set a school record and got some revenge in the process.

Al Horford collected 22 points and 13 rebounds as Florida rolled to its 14th straight win, a 94-78 rout of Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee.

Joakim Noah scored 19 points for the Gators (21-2, 8-0 SEC), who have opened league play with eight consecutive victories for the first time in school history. They matched the third-longest overall winning streak in university annals.

"We've just got to keep up the need to win, keep ourselves hungry," Noah said. "We've got a couple of big ones coming up (at Georgia and at Kentucky). Right now we're just really happy."

The defending national champions never trailed and led by as many as 27 points as they also settled a small score with the Volunteers (15-8, 3-6), who had won four of the last five meetings, including both showdowns last season.

"A lot of people want to talk about last year, but last year was last year," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "A lot of the questioning to our guys was the fact that we lost twice to South Carolina and twice to Tennessee and was this going to be a revenge game. I don't think anything good comes out of thinking of revenge because your mind gets off track. Tennessee had a great year last year, but so did we."

"I think they are better than they were last year when we played them here," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said.

Tennessee was without injured leading scorer Chris Lofton (ankle) for the fourth game in a row and put up very little fight. The Volunteers fell behind, 9-0, in the first three-plus minutes and trailed, 50-24, at halftime.

Horford had a terrific all-around game, making 5-of-11 shots and 12-of-16 free throws while adding five assists and three blocks. His interior play opened the perimeter for Florida, which made 9-of-19 3-pointers.

"Al established himself in the low post," Donovan said. "He rebounded, he defended, he did a lot of good things."

"They're a physical team," Horford said. "We were expecting that out of them, and our guys were ready for it the whole game."

Noah had a pair of buckets in a 9-0 run to start the game. The Vols went nearly four minutes before scoring.

Lee Humphrey's 3-pointer capped an 11-2 burst the widened the advantage to 38-15 with 5:55 to go in the first half. Two free throws by Horford triggered an 8-1 spurt that gave the Gators their largest lead at 48-21 with 2:14 to go.

"We did not show a lot of poise in the first half," Pearl said. "The excellence of their play really bothered us once we got off to a bad start, and we were not able to overcome it until halftime."

In the first half, Florida shot 58 percent (17-of-29) and held Tennessee to just 42 percent (10-of-24). The Gators made 5-of-10 from the arc and 11-of-12 from the line.

"I thought the first half was played unselfishly," Donovan said. "We moved it well and shot it well from the 3-point line."

Taurean Green made three 3-pointers and scored 18 points and Corey Brewer and reserve Walter Hodge added 12 apiece for Florida, which held a 43-26 advantage on the glass and scored 24 second-chance points.

Wayne Chism scored 19 points and JaJuan Smith added 16 for Tennessee, which scored 54 points in the second half to make matters a bit more respectable but got no closer than the final margin.

"We were undersized down low," senior guard Dane Bradshaw said. "Sometimes that can be exposed when you go up against future NBA players like Horford and Noah."

    --- --- -----
    TENNESSEE 24 54 78
    FLORIDA (1) 50 44 94 FINAL

    Feb 3 5:14 PM


    Feb 3 3:59 PM