Defense propels No. 11 Florida Gators past Florida State Seminoles 82-64

GAINESVILLE — If the play didn't end up on SportsCenter on Thursday night, Florida center Patric Young was going to be highly disappointed.

Young's leaping left-handed block and midair snatch of the ball of what seemingly was going to be an easy layup by Florida State's Bernard James, and his subsequent slam on the other end fueled a second-half run that helped the No. 11 Gators to an 82-64 victory over their archrival in front of 11,125 at the O'Connell Center on Thursday night.

"Can't wait to see that one in the top 10 (plays on ESPN)," said Young, who had 15 points and four rebounds. "Whenever you block somebody's shot and pull it down with one hand, that's making SportsCenter. I just saw him going for the roll, and I was able to time it right.

"That's the best block I've had in my life."

For a team that has been branded as all about offense, it was defense that turned the game around for the Gators, who have won 12 straight at home dating to last season.

Florida, which enters the holi­day break on a five-game win streak, held FSU to 10-of-29 shooting from the field in the first half and 33 percent from 3-point range. FSU committed 19 turnovers that led to 25 Florida points.

"I told our guys the game's not going to come down to whether or not they can stop us or not," Florida coach Billy Donovan said in praising the defensive effort. "It's going to come down to how well we guard."

FSU (8-4) got off to a rocky start, making its second shot of the game then missing 10 in a row.

Florida (10-2) led 32-24 at halftime, and FSU opened strong early in the second half, outscoring Florida 12-6 in the opening 3½ minutes to pull within 38-36.

But Florida responded with a 15-2 run to take a 53-38 lead. Sophomore Bradley Beal scored eight of the 15 and finished with a game-high 21 points and six rebounds.

Luke Loucks, a senior from Clearwater, led Florida State with 15 points and also had four rebounds and four assists.

"They just laid it on us," Loucks said.

"Usually in a rivalry game, you get a 6-0 run or an 8-0 run and you have to get it together. But for some reason, we just couldn't stop them."

Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said the Gators won't lose many more games playing like they did on Thursday.

"We lost to a very good team, a Florida team that is probably the best team, at least the most difficult team for us to beat since I've been at Florida State," he said.

"They play so well together. They execute their system almost to perfection, and there is very little room for error. It's very difficult to compete at the level that it takes to be successful against a team of this caliber when you're not at your best. I thought they were a lot more physical than we were."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

11 Florida 82

FSU 64

Defense propels No. 11 Florida Gators past Florida State Seminoles 82-64 12/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 12:25am]

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