Thursday March 20, 2008Basketball Defeats San Diego State in NIT Opener, 73-49
The second-seeded Florida Gators (22-11) began the NIT Tournament in impressive fashion, overpowering the San Diego State Aztecs, 73-49, on Wednesday night at the O’Connell Center. Sophomore center Marreese Speights (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and freshman guard Nick Calathes (Casselberry, Fla.) led the Gators, both scoring double digits.
The Orange and Blue jumped out to an early start with the help of Calathes, who had 16 points on the night. The Gators had a 22-12 lead midway through the first half, after hitting their first three shots from behind the three-point line. Although the Aztecs were able to rally back bringing the score to 24-18, UF managed to maintain a double-digit lead going into the half. Three consecutive three-pointers from Calathes gave the Gators the 35-23 lead.
In addition to his 16 points, Calathes also added five rebounds and led the team in assists with five.
The Gators continued their lead into the second half. Speights made three consecutive baskets giving Florida its biggest lead of the game, 71-46, with 2:46 left in the game.
Sophomore forward Dan Werner (Middletown, NJ) was 4-of-5 from the field, collecting nine points and five rebounds. Freshman guard Jai Lucas (Bellaire, Texas) added eight points and four assists in his postseason debut.
The Gators overpowered the Aztecs on the board with a 35-22 rebounding advantage. UF took 11 rebounds on offense and 24 defensively. Speights, along with freshman forwards Adam Allen (Milton, Fla.) and Chandler Parsons (Casselberry, Fla.), led the team with six rebounds apiece.
Ryan Amoroso led the Aztecs (20-13) with 19 points and seven rebounds.
The victory gave Florida its 19th win in its last 20 postseason games. The Gators return to action in the second round of the NIT when they face Creighton on Friday, March 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET at the O’Connell Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.