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Florida 78, Mississippi 68

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Nick Calathes had 19 points and eight assists, Walter Hodge added 16 points and Florida used an impressive first half to beat Mississippi 78-68 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

The Gators, who won their eighth consecutive game, led by as many as 21 points in the first half. But Mississippi pounded Florida on the glass 46-22 and got sliced into the big lead.

The Rebels, down 53-39 at halftime, cut it to 75-68 on David Huertas' putback with 2 minutes remaining. But Florida (14-2) pulled away down the stretch thanks to a steal by Calathes and four straight free throws.

Huertas, returning to Gainesville for the first time since transferring after the 2006 national championship, led the Rebels (9-6) with 16 points and nine rebounds.

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