No. 22 Texas A&M loses to No. 13 Florida 84-64
SUNRISE, Fla.—By the time Texas A&M sank a basket, the deficit was 16 points.
It was already too late.
A slow start doomed the No. 22 Aggies on Saturday in an 84-64 loss to No. 13 Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic.
The Gators came into the game leading the nation in 3-pointers and ranked third in scoring, and they showed why from the start. Florida took leads of 7-0, 18-2 and 35-14.
At halftime it was 50-25, with Florida outscoring Texas A&M 21-0 from 3-point range. The Gators' scoring spree came against an Aggies team that had been allowing only 51.4 points per game.
"In the first half we were playing on our heels too much, and playing kind of timid," Aggies guard Elston Turner said. "That's what caused them to throw that first punch and get out to that big lead."
Florida's Kenny Boynton sank six 3-pointers, scored 22 points and was voted the game's most valuable player. Erving Walker had 16 points and six assists, and Bradley Beal added 16 points for the Gators.
"Offensively they're so good, with Walker creating so many opportunities, and with Boynton shooting the ball like that," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "They're very difficult to guard, and we couldn't slow them down."
Turnovers hurt the Aggies early, and they played 8 minutes before making their first basket.
The Gators (8-2) won for the first time in three games this season against teams that are in the Top 25. Texas A&M (8-2) had a six-game winning streak snapped.
The Aggies' Khris Middleton, playing in his second game after being sidelined with a knee injury, shot only 5 for 18. He scored 12 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists.
David Loubeau, a native of nearby Miami, scored 20 points for the Aggies. Turner also had 20.
Erik Murphy scored 13 for the Gators, including seven of their first nine points.
"I thought the first half was the best we've played all year," coach Billy Donovan said. "We shared it. We passed it. We moved it. We had inside-outside action."
The victory came one day after the Gators announced a three-year extension for Donovan through 2015-16. Florida's only losses have been to No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Ohio State.
The Gators finished just under their scoring average of 86.8 points. More than half their shots came from 3-point range, and they made 11 of 31.
Boynton shot 4 for 7 from 3-point range in the first half.
"The adjustment Kenny has made from the last couple of years is what shot to take and what shot not to take," Donovan said. "Offensively he's becoming more complete."
The margin reached 26 points early in the second half before the Gators cooled off. They shot only 39 percent after halftime, and the Aggies cut the margin to 73-61 with 2:12 left.
Texas A&M's comeback bid ended when Walker sank a 3-pointer then made two free throws.
"I thought it was an OK second half at best, and we still scored 84 points," Donovan said.
The Aggies missed their first seven shots. By the time Middleton scored their first basket to make it 18-4, Florida had seven field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers.
The Gators increased their lead to 37-16, with 15 of those points coming off turnovers.
"They did a really good job of speeding us up and getting us out of our tempo," Kennedy said. "Their quickness and athleticism gave us a lot of problems."