JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida coach Billy Donovan spent the
last month talking about his team's added depth. He finally got to
show it Friday night.
The Gators -- with nine guys playing double-digit minutes -- won
their 14th consecutive opener and extended their winning streak
against in-state opponents to 24.
"We've got a very deep team," Lee said. "We were only seven
deep last season, and with the style of play we have, the starters
needed to play about 35 minutes a game. Now we have depth and we're
going to be tough to beat down the stretch."
The Gators used a 10-0 run midway through the first half to move
ahead for good, then extended the lead to 21 points with another
10-0 spurt to start the second. And a team known for relying on
3-pointers didn't even need them.
Florida finished 6-of-16 from beyond the arc.
"There was only one way for us to win last season: we had to
shoot the ball well. That's the hand we were dealt," Donovan said.
"That's not the case this year."
Jacksonville, coming off consecutive losing seasons, cut the
lead to 58-47 midway through the second half on back-to-back
3-pointers by B.J. Surry. But Roberson answered with his second
trey, and the Gators made their free throws down the stretch to
rule out a comeback.
Florida's Matt Walsh finished with 14 points, and freshman Corey
Brewer had nine points, five rebounds and five steals as the Gators
used 11 of their 12 scholarship players. Only Joakim Noah, who has
missed some practice time with mononucleosis, didn't play.
"The biggest difference this year is I don't feel like there's
a lot of drop-off when I sub," Donovan said.
David Lee, another player with the same name, led Jacksonville
with 15 points. Surry added 12 off the bench.
Florida began the season with its lowest preseason ranking since
2000 -- possibly a reflection of being knocked out early in the last
three NCAA tournaments. The Gators were upset by Manhattan in the
first round last year.
But the team's expectations are as high as ever. The Gators
returned their top three scorers -- Walsh, Roberson and Lee -- and
added another strong recruiting class.
Donovan, no longer "Billy the Kid" as he is nearing 40 years
old and is now the longest tenured coach in the Southeastern
Conference, also brought in an assistant -- former Clemson coach
Larry Shyatt -- to hopefully improve team defense. That was
Florida's biggest weakness in the recent tournament flops.
Shyatt, who also coached at Wyoming, has a reputation of
building strong defenses.
His debut went well.
The Gators had a productive press and gave up few easy baskets.
They also held Jacksonville to two field goals over the final 12:28
in the first half.
"Our guards got taken to the woodshed," Jacksonville coach
Hugh Durham said.