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Calathes' triple double propels Gators in NIT

GAINESVILLE — Coach Billy Donovan knew Nick Calathes would make his mark on the Florida program, but even he didn't know it would happen this quick.

Calathes, the SEC co-freshman of the year, recorded the second triple double in school history to lead the host Gators in a dominating 82-54 victory against Creighton on Friday in the NIT.

The guard completed the feat on a layup with 6:07 remaining and finished with 11 points, 11 assists and 13 rebounds.

Florida (23-11) advances to face Arizona State in the quarterfinals in Tempe, Ariz., on Tuesday.

Creighton (22-11) had won the two previous meetings but never found much of a rhythm Friday night.

This game was all about Calathes, who also became the first Florida player to dish out 200 assists in a single season and set career highs in rebounds and assists.

"I think it's a great honor, but I would also take a 30-point, or however much we won, over that any day," Calathes said. "My teammates actually made it happen. They found me for my points, they made open shots. I did the little thing, rebounding."

Corey Brewer, now a rookie with the NBA's Timberwolves, had UF's other triple double on Dec. 18, 2005. Brewer had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in the Gators' 101-58 victory against Jacksonville.

Calathes had come close to the mark on numerous occasions, including falling just three rebounds shy against Vanderbilt on Jan. 27.

Many of his assists came in highlight-reel fashion, as the 6-foot-6 guard from Casselberry made some spectacular alley-oop passes in transition to sophomore center Marreese Speights, the former Gibbs High standout who finished with 14 points.

It was a balanced attack for the Gators, who had four players score in double digits. Jai Lucas had 10 and Walter Hodge had a game-high 15 to join Calathes and Speights.

Florida opened the game with an 11-2 run as it made five of its first 10 3-pointers. Creighton closed the gap to 15-12, but Florida scored 14 straight to open things up and went into halftime with a commanding 39-19 lead.

The Bluejays' first-half output marked a season-low for them as well as the fewest points the Gators had allowed in a half.

With the game safely in hand, fans began to eagerly await Calathes' history-making basket. The freshman missed a few easy opportunities earlier in the second half before making the open layup that etched his name in the record books.

The crowd gave Calathes a standing ovation when his feat was announced and rose to its feet again when he exited the game with 1:31 left.

"How many times do we see in life something really good happens, then the next day you have a letdown?" Donovan said. "With the way we played today, it has nothing to do with going in and playing Arizona State. It has everything to do with how we handle this."

USF releases pair

TAMPA — Reserves Amu Saaka and Aaron Holmes, who played only sparingly in conferences games, have been granted their release and are expected to transfer. Saaka, a sophomore forward, averaged 2.6 points, but saw his minutes drop from 17.0 as a freshman to 10.5 this season. Holmes, the former St. Pete Catholic star who transferred from Florida State, played only 11 minutes in USF's final nine games. Holmes is likely to transfer to a junior college.

USF ousted in WNIT

FORT MYERS — Delia De La Torre scored 20 and Chelsea Dermyer 19 as Florida Gulf Coast beat USF 67-65 in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament. Shantia Grace scored 34 for USF (16-16), including a 40-footer at the buzzer for the Bulls' only 3-pointer against Gulf Coast (22-8).

Times staff writer Greg Auman and information from Times wires was used in this report.

Calathes' triple double propels Gators in NIT 03/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:45am]
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