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Florida starts fast in rout of Vanderbilt

Jan 27, 2008 - 9:50 PM GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Florida took little time in keeping Vanderbilt winless on the road in Southeastern Conference action.

Walter Hodge scored 11 of his career-high 19 points in a dominating first half as the Gators coasted to an 86-64 rout of the 13th-ranked Commodores on Sunday.

Hardly intimidated by a ranked team visiting the O'Connell Center, the Gators used a 23-0 run in the first half to seize control of the game.

"The first 10 minutes was as good as we could have played," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "When you get up by that many points, you always get concerned. You want your guys to maintain aggressiveness."

Florida (18-3, 5-1 SEC East) missed its first five shots, but made 12 of its next 15 in opening a commanding 34-6 lead through the first 12 minutes. Hodge sank a 3-pointer at the 11:21 mark to put the Gators ahead 24-6, then capped the burst by draining a runner.

Vanderbilt (17-3, 2-3 East) missed 17 of its first 19 shots, getting only a 3-pointer by Keegan Bell, a basket goal from Ross Neltner and a free throw by Andrew Ogilvy.

"We had a number of lay-ups that we missed right at the goal and our transition defense was very poor," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "Those two things contributed to not very much good happening for quite a long period of time."

Alex Gordon made a 3-pointer to snap the Commodores' six-minute scoreless drought at the 7:47 mark, but Florida responded with a dunk by Marreese Speights just nine seconds later to make it 36-9.

"We went out there and played unselfishly," Speights said. "We waited for things to come and they came really quick. Our coaches did a good job scouting Vanderbilt and I think that helped."

Hodge scored six points over the final three minutes of the half, giving Florida a 46-31 advantage at the break.

Vanderbilt guard Shan Foster, the conference's leading scorer at 20.1 points per game, was held scoreless in the first half.

"You know it is hard to put your finger on it," Foster said. "They were coming down, hitting shot after shot and getting easy buckets under the basket. We kind of got caught up in the moment I guess. We didn't fight back. I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't believe it."

Foster finally scored four minutes into the second half to pull his team within 53-36, but Hodge quickly countered with a basket. Florida led by at least 15 points the rest of the way.

"Vanderbilt is a really good team," Donovan said. "We got off to a great start in the second half. In the second half, for our guys to come out to play and take some shots the way they did, I was very proud of them."

Hodge led five Florida players in double figures. Nick Calathes posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Dan Werner finished with 14 points and nine assists.

Speights chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds, and Jai Lucas added 11 points for Florida, which shot 47 percent (29-62) from the field.

The Commodores, who dropped their other two SEC road games to Kentucky and Tennessee, were paced by Gordon's 13 points and Andre Walker with 10.

Foster was held to seven points and Ogilvy managed just nine for Vanderbilt, which shot 40 percent (23-57) from the floor.

"We obviously got overwhelmed during the first 12 minutes of the game and we were never able to recover," Stallings said. "We were not as emotionally ready to play as they were. They were faster to the ball and were the quicker and more aggressive team. That is a sure recipe for defeat on the road. We were outplayed and outcoached."