No. 7 Florida drops Ole Miss, snaps road losing skid

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Florida's best long-range scorer was out, and the team's star swingman wasn't himself. Seemed like the perfect time for Taurean Green to take control.

Green had 17 points and Al Horford added 14 to lead the Gators (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) to a 69-58 win over Mississippi on Tuesday night in Florida's first game without Lee Humphrey, the team's leading 3-point shooter and defender.

"We knew me, Al -- all the veterans, basically -- had to lead the young guys," said Green, a sophomore. "As long as we led and just played our game still, with smart play, we knew we would be fine."

Florida (19-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) led by as many as 15, shot nearly 54 percent and snapped a two-game road losing streak in its first game since Humphrey separated his left shoulder in a bicycling accident and was lost for at least a week.

The Gators also didn't have a healthy Corey Brewer, slowed by what coach Billy Donovan called moderate tendinitis in his already sprained right ankle.

Brewer came off the bench for just the second time in his career and was held scoreless on 0-for-1 shooting in 18 minutes, three days after he was held to a then-season-worst three points in a home win against Vanderbilt.

Donovan said Brewer would not play Saturday against Kentucky because "he is still not himself."

This time, the rest of the young Gators picked up the slack.

Florida started two freshmen and three sophomores -- including Green and Horford.

"It was a courageous win for us," Donovan said. "We lost two starters. We're in a hard place to play and didn't know what to expect. ... I thought Taurean Green was exceptional overall. I'm very proud of the way he played."

Green had 11 points in the first half, and David Huertas scored seven points early in the second half. Huertas' free throw with 11:23 to play gave Florida a 53-38 lead.

The Rebels trimmed the lead to 61-56 on a steal and dunk by Clarence Sanders with 1:36 left but couldn't get any closer.

"We were fighting an uphill battle all night," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes said.

Florida's Walter Hodge drove the length of the court for a layup 11 seconds later and the Gators made 6-of-6 free throws in the final 1:01 to clinch their second straight victory after losses at
Tennessee and South Carolina.

"We lost two tough road games that we should have won, but we didn't," Green said. "We came here focused with the right mind-set that we had to get a win."

The Gators were 17-of-18 from the free-throw line -- 8-of-8 in the second half -- and scored 21 points off 19 Ole Miss turnovers.

"You can't have 19 turnovers against a Top 10 team and expect to win," Barnes said.

Sanders had 16 points and freshman Trey Hampton added 11 for the Rebels (13-7, 3-4), who have lost four straight since a seven-game winning streak included a 3-0 start in SEC play.

"We fought hard, but we can't put 40 minutes together right now," Hampton said.

Hodge finished with 10 points for Florida, which led by as many as 10 in the first half after going six minutes between field goals. After that cold spell, the Gators hit three 3-pointers in the final two minutes -- a spurt capped when Green's 3-pointer with 21 seconds left made it 36-26.

Sanders hit an off-balance 3 in the closing seconds to make it 36-29 at halftime. Ole Miss had nearly as many turnovers (10) as baskets (12) in the first half.