Gators crush Savannah State to remain unbeaten

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Joakim Noah sat on the bench with his long arms draped around Florida's other four starters.

Noah had done his part and was ready for the backups to put on a show against lowly Savannah State. And they did.

Noah had 21 points on 10-for-10 shooting, reserve Walter Hodge
added 18 points and the second-ranked Gators remained unbeaten with a 113-62 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday night.

"In a game like this, it's all about having fun and just playing hard," Noah said.

The Gators extended the best start and longest winning streak in school history and finished undefeated in non-conference play for the first time in coach Billy Donovan's 10 seasons.

Florida (17-0) returns to the Southeastern Conference on Saturday at Tennessee, which should provide a much tougher test than Savannah State (1-18).

Javon Randolph had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Tigers, who last season became the second winless NCAA Division I team in the last half-century. They have lost 18 straight since a season-opening victory over Wilberforce University.

They were overmatched from the start Wednesday.

The Gators went up 13-0, extended the lead to 45-10 with a 21-0 run and led by as many as 39 in the first half.

Ahead 57-23 at the break, Florida opened the second half with a 14-3 spurt, and Donovan pulled his starters with 13:48 remaining.

The bench was equally impressive, with every player scoring at least one basket.

Hodge made five 3-pointers, David Huertas scored a career-high 15 points and walk-ons Jack Berry, Brett Swanson and Garrett Tyler played the most minutes of their careers and combined for 15 points.

"They don't get a chance to take their warmups off very often and they don't get a chance to get in the game and really play significant minutes," Donovan said. "In practice, they're as valuable as anybody else on our team. There's a role they fill. There's things they do that enable our team to get better. It's great for me as a coach to see them be rewarded in that fashion.

"If those kids leave the University of Florida and this is an experience that they remember for a long time, to me that sometimes is a lot bigger than winning," he said.

Tyler even dunked in the closing minutes.

"When he gets to be 45 or 50, it will probably elevate to [having happened against] Kentucky, in overtime, put us up by one," Donovan said. "The story will certainly escalate for sure."

The Gators won their 12th consecutive game by double digits and dominated inside -- not surprising considering Florida had six players taller than anyone on Savannah State's roster. They finished with 12 blocked shots, two shy of the school record, and held a 53-27 rebounding advantage.

Al Horford had nine points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Noah had six rebounds and four blocks.

"I'd rather have a bad day doing something I like than have a bad day doing something I don't like," said Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax, whose school was paid $50,000 for the visit. "We just tried to come in here and compete."