4:00 PM ET, December 8, 2002
Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Anthony Roberson increased his energy level and the result was a victory for Florida.The freshman guard had 19 points and David Lee added 16 as Florida (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) beat South Florida 68-52 Sunday. ''He has to come with energy and intensity,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said of Roberson. ''The last two games, he played with great energy.'' Florida (6-2) has won 33 consecutive games against non-conference opponents at home. Over the past three seasons, the Gators are 24-1 in December games. ''The biggest thing right now is energy,'' Roberson said. ''I'm trying to come in with lot of energy.'' Florida had struggled in its past two games, beating Florida State 58-57 Friday, three days after losing 68-66 at West Virginia. ''Our goal is to take every game with the most energy we can and at the same time develop a new level of toughness and a new level of confidence,'' Lee said. ''I think if we bring energy and play the way we are capable of, we can beat anybody on any given night.'' Jimmy Baxter had 13 points for South Florida (4-1), which was looking to open the season with five straight wins for the fourth time in school history. Roberson had 16 points as Florida took a 40-25 halftime lead. ''He really opened the game for us in the first half,'' Donovan said. ''He was terrific.'' South Florida put together a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Reggie Kohn, to get within 42-32 with 17½ minutes to play. Florida responded with a 10-4 run to go up 52-36 midway through the second half as Brett Nelson and Matt Bonner each hit a 3-pointer. South Florida made a late run, cutting the deficit to 62-50 on Will McDonald's basket. After a free throw by Matt Walsh, Roberson hit a 3 for his first points of the half and Lee added a basket to make it 68-50 with just under two minutes to go. ''He gave them a lift when they needed one,'' South Florida coach Seth Greenberg said of Roberson. ''He made big shots.'' Florida had assists on 21 of its 25 field goals. Lee had four slams and Roberson hit two 3s to put Florida ahead 17-9 with 12:34 left in the first half. Roberson extended the lead to 30-17 with 5½ minutes remaining. He hit another 3-pointer just seconds after making two free throws following an intentional foul called on South Florida's Terrence Leather. ''I was mad,'' Roberson said. ''Coach talked to me and calmed me down.'' Through 32 minutes of play, Florida was called for just two fouls. The Gators finished with four. The previous low under Donovan was eight on Nov. 29, 1996, against Creighton. South Florida had 16 fouls overall, 11 through the midpoint of the second half. The Bulls were 1-of-2 from the free throw line.