Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bouncing Back Gators Recover from Slow Start to Run Away from Ole Miss in Second Half

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bouncing Back Gators Recover from Slow Start to Run Away from Ole Miss in Second Half

Article excerpt

ATLANTA --- After all those winds sprints and conditioning drills that left the Florida Gators bent at the waist, it's time to see what it all means.

They made the first step in the Southeastern Conference tournament look easy last night, routing Mississippi 89-67 in the Georgia Dome.

The problem is that the next three games --- which will be played in a span of about 44 hours --- become considerably tougher.

"We're the most conditioned team in the country," UF sophomore Mike Miller said. "We have to use that to our advantage."

At this point, Florida's conditioning will become a major factor.

The 11th-ranked Gators (24-6) advance to play West Division No. 2 seed Auburn at 7:30 tonight. UF beat the 25th-ranked Tigers (21-8) --- who will be without All-America forward Chris Porter --- by 29 points three weeks ago in Gainesville.

Should UF beat Auburn again, it would play in the semifinals on about 14 hours' rest against the winner of the South Carolina-Tennessee game.

"I don't know if we can win four games in four days. Obviously, the odds say no," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "Hopefully that'll prove as a motivational factor. I'd love to give a great run at it. It would be great if we could do it. All I know is we're playing again."

The Gators advanced by using a familiar formula. In UF's last four victories it has scored at least 50 points in the second half to put the game away.

The second-half run this time was led by senior Kenyan Weaks, who has made a career of playing in the Georgia Dome. In six career SEC tournament games --- five in the Georgia Dome --- Weaks is averaging 15.6 points per game and is shooting 58.6 percent from the floor (34 of 58).

Moreover, he's 19-of-31 beyond the arc (61 percent), including 4-of-4 last night. He led a 25-6 UF run in the second half by scoring 10 points, including hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game at 43-43, and another 3-pointer to help UF pull away to 56-49.

Weaks finished with 18 points, Miller had 15 points and 7 rebounds and Donnell Harvey (11 points, 12 rebounds) had his sixth double-double of the season. …

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