Rebel Comeback Falls Short In SEC Opener At Florida

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Ole Miss pounded Florida on the glass 46-22 and sliced into the Gators' big lead but could not complete the comeback from a difficult first half in falling 78-68 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Nick Calathes had 19 points and eight assists, and Walter Hodge added 16 points for the Gators, who led by as many as 21 points in the first half.

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.

The Gators played their best half of the season to open SEC play, shooting 62 percent from the field and were 8-of-15 from 3-point range. They made eight of their first 10 shots from behind the arc and were up 49-28 with a little more than 5 minutes to play in the half.

Florida cooled off in the closing minutes and couldn't find its rhythm coming out of the locker room. Ole Miss kept pounding the ball and inside and collapsing on the glass clearly trying to take advantage of Florida's biggest weakness.

The Rebels finished with 22 second-chance points, but not enough to overcome the big lead.

Zach Graham added 14 points for Ole Miss, and Murphy Holloway chipped in 11.

The Gators finished 11-of-29 from behind the arc, getting two huge 3-point buckets from Hodge and Chandler Parsons in the final 6 minutes. Parsons had 12 points.

Huertas, the Rebels' leading scorer, got booed in his return to Gainesville. He shook hands with former teammates and Gators coach Billy Donovan just before the tip, but got heckled relentlessly after shooting an air ball on the first possession. Huertas played one season for Donovan, but left in search of more playing time.

He found it at Ole Miss, especially after all the injuries the team endured this season. Guards Trevor Gaskins, Eniel Polynice and Chris Warren suffered season-ending knee injuries in the fall, leaving Huertas to fill the void.


 

 

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