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Tuesday January 2, 2007No. 3 Men's Basketball Defeats Liberty 89-58

Gainesville, FL

Junior Al Horford (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) recorded a double-double to lead third-ranked Florida (13-2) past the Liberty Flames (6-8), 89-58, on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Horford dropped 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds en route to his sixth double-double of the year and the 18th of his career. Horford paced several key performers for Florida as the Gators shot a season-best .618 from the floor. Junior Joakim Noah (New York, N.Y.) led the Gators in scoring with 15 points while junior Corey Brewer (Portland, Tenn.) and sophomore Taurean Green (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) each added 14 points. Florida has now shot better than 60 percent in four games this season.

 

A key difference in the game was provided via the rebound where the Gators out rebounded Liberty 47-19. The difference of 28 rebounds was the largest rebounding margin of the season. It also marked the first time this season Florida was able to hold its opponent to under 20 rebounds. The Gators picked up 18 second chance points off of their 13 offensive rebounds.

 

The Gators opened the game on a modest 5-0 run before the teams swapped multiple baskets bring the game to a 12-9 score. Then, Florida went on an 11-0 run from 15:02 to 10:50 that gave UF a 23-9 edge. Horford contributed six points during the run. By the end of the period, the Gators had scored twice as many points as Liberty holding a 52-26 advantage paced by Brewer and Green with 10 points each. Freshman Marreesee Speights (St. Petersburg, Fla.) checked in for final 1:39 of the half and scored four points and picked up four rebounds. As a team, Florida shot 50 percent (5-for-10) from beyond the arc and pulled in seven offensive rebounds while limiting the Flames to just one offensive board in the period. Speights went on to finish the night with eight points and seven rebounds.

 

Liberty received valiant efforts from senior Larry Blair and sophomore Anthony Smith in the contest. Blair led the Flames in scoring with a game-high 18 points while Smith added 17 points.

 

With the win, Florida improves to 10-0 at home this season and has now won 11 straight at home dating back to last season. The 11 straight victories at home match the fifth longest home winning streak under head coach Billy Donovan. The Gators reached 13 regular season non-conference wins as well, the second highest total in school history behind the 14 wins posted by last year’s team.

 

Florida also extended its current winning streak to six games with the victory and is now set to open Southeastern Conference play on Jan. 6 when Georgia comes to Gainesville. Tip off is set for 12:00 p.m. ET.

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