Sunday , Dec , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Florida’s Donovan can match school wins mark

Tampa, FL (Sports Network) – In a Sunshine State showdown, the fifth-ranked
Florida Gators head to Tampa to take on the Rattlers of Florida A&M. A win
will give Billy Donovan 235 victories at Florida, matching Norm Sloan’s school

Donovan’s Gators began defense of their 2005-06 national title with six
straight wins, but a couple of losses in recent weeks have caused some to
question whether or not Florida has what it takes to repeat as
champions. The Gators took out Providence in their most recent outing,
downing the visiting Friars in an 85-67 final on December 6th, and running
their home record this season to a perfect 7-0. UF is playing its 16th game
all-time against a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and the
Gators have won all 15 prior matchups, including a 7-0 mark all-time against
Florida A&M.

The Rattlers’ season got off to a dreadful start, as they lost five of their
first six games. However, coach Mike Gillespie’s club has seemingly turned
things around, winning four straight over the likes of Savannah State,
Bethune-Cookman, Edward Waters and Albany State. Despite having pulled even
at 5-5 on the year, FAMU has really struggled away from home, going 0-4 in
true road tilts and just 1-5 when you factor in a pair of neutral-site affairs.

With senior center Rome Sanders and his 16.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game
leading the way, the Rattlers have turned the corner over the last few weeks.
Sanders, a stellar 66.2 percent shooter from the field who also happens to
knock down 80.8 percent of his free throws, highlights a Florida A&M team that
is averaging 69.9 ppg behind 42.9 percent shooting from the floor. The Rattlers
are being outrebounded by just 1.7 rpg, but they are guilty of close to 20
turnovers per outing and are giving up nearly 76 ppg. In addition to Sanders,
three players are netting double figures on a consistent basis, as Brian Greene
(12.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.0 apg), Leslie Robinson (11.1 ppg) and Darius Glover
(10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg), have all shown the ability to put the ball in the basket
or provide assistance in other areas. Robinson is coming off a monster effort
as he pumped through 10 three-pointers on his way to 34 points in helping FAMU
lay claim to a 96-87 win over Albany State on December 9th. Sanders shot 6-of-9
from the floor and 13-of-16 from the charity stripe to finish with 25 points
and nine rebounds, while Greene chipped in with 12 points. Florida A&M won the
game despite turning the ball over a whopping 26 times.

The talented frontcourt trio of Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Chris Richard
bounced back in a big way from the lackluster effort put forth in Florida’s
loss to Florida State back on December 3rd by combining for 49 points in
helping the Gators upend Providence in their most recent outing. In all, six UF
players reached double figures in the win, as Horford led the way with his
fourth double-double of the season and 15th of his career, netting a career-
high 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Noah contributed 17 points, six boards
and three blocks, while the backcourt trio of Lee Humphrey, Taurean Green and
Walter Hodge combined to net 32 points and dish out 10 assists. Richard tallied
11 points off the bench for a Florida squad that converted 23-of-26 free-throw
attempts and shoot 54.7 percent from the field. On the season, Horford heads
the club with his 13.2 points and 8.3 caroms per contest, while Green checks in
at 13.1 ppg and is hitting 45.5 percent of his three-point tries. Noah is
averaging 12.7 ppg while also grabbing 6.7 rpg and has combined with Horford to
log 35 of the team’s 53 blocks. Florida owns significant advantages in scoring
differential (+31.1) and rebounding (+9.9), while shooting a stellar 54.9
percent from the field, which includes a 41.6 percent showing from three-point
range. The Gators get a boost tonight as 6-9 junior forward Corey Brewer, a
48.5 percent shooter who averages 11.7 ppg, is expected back after missing the
last three games while battling the effects of mononucleosis.