Saturday March 22, 2008Basketball Strolls into NIT Quarterfinals with 82-54 Victory over Creighton
The Florida Gators (23-11) advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT after defeating Creighton (22-11), 82-54, on Friday night at the O’Connell Center. The Gators were led by freshman guard Nick Calathes (Casselberry, Fla.), who completed the game with a triple double, scoring 11 points and collecting 13 rebounds and 11 assists. Calathes is the second player in school history to accomplish the feat, joining Corey Brewer (Dec. 18, 2005 vs. Jacksonville) in the record book.
Calathes also became the first player in school history to collect 200 assists in a season after dishing the ball to junior guard Walter Hodge (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) for a three pointer.
The victory gave Florida its 20th win of 21 post season games. The 28-point margin of victory was the third largest in a postseason game in school history, including SEC tournaments. The most recent record-setting margin of victory came as the Gators defeated Jacksonville State by 43 points in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Florida was in control from the start, making a 14-0 run midway through the first half, holding Creighton scoreless for 6:02. The Gators had a 29-12 lead with 4:40 remaining in the first half before the Blue Jays ended the run.
The Gators’ high intensity offense continued for the remainder of the half, giving them a 39-19 lead going into the locker room at half time.
After matching lay ups by both teams in the opening minute of the second half, the Orange and Blue went on to make a 10-2 run highlighted by a three pointer from Hodge. Hodge’s two three pointers helped him to lead the team with 15 points on the night.
Including Hodge and Calathes, four players scored in double digits. Sophomore center Marreese Speights (St. Petersburg, Fla.) had 14 points and four rebounds, while freshman guard Jai Lucas (Bellaire, Texas) scored ten points.
The Gators were equally as impressive on defense, forcing Creighton to 21 turnovers, 12 of those coming in the first half. Calathes tallied five steals followed by sophomore forward Jonathan Mitchell (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) with three.
Creighton was led by Cavel Witter and Dane Watts, who scored 13 points and 10 points, respectively.
The Gators will travel to Tempe to face Arizona State in the quarterfinal match up of the NIT on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.