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SECOND HALF RALLY FALLS SHORT FOR VOLS AT FLORIDA
Wayne Chism

Wayne Chism

Feb. 3, 2007

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Al Horford had a career-high 22 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two key second-half blocks to help top-ranked Florida beat Tennessee 94-78 Saturday and extend the nation's longest winning streak to 14 games.

Horford scored 15 points in the first half as the defending national champions opened up a 27-point lead that the Volunteers couldn't overcome, especially without Southeastern Conference leading scorer Chris Lofton.

Lofton missed his fourth consecutive game with a sprained right ankle, and Tennessee (15-8, 3-5) fell to 1-3 without him.

He might not have been able to prevent the outcome - unless the shooting guard could muster a way to stop Horford.

Florida's 6-foot-10 junior scored in a variety of ways. He had dunks, layups, putbacks and a short jumper. He even made most of his free throws, going 12-of-16 from the line.

Horford's best play came early in the game when he spun on a defender and dunked.

Joakim Noah had 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, Taurean Green added 18 and Corey Brewer and Walter Hodge finished with 12 apiece for the Gators (21-2, 8-0).

Wayne Chism led the Vols with 19 points, and JuJuan Smith added 16.

Florida scored the first nine points in the game, opened up a 26-9 advantage following Horford's jumper midway through the first half and led 50-24 at the break.

Tennessee used a pressing defense and a bevy of 3-point shots to cut into the lead in the second half. Smith and Dane Bradshaw hit consecutive 3s to make it 79-65 with about 6 minutes to play, but Horford made sure the Volunteers didn't get any closer.

He blocked Bradshaw's 3-point attempt the next time down the floor, made two free throws on the other end and then blocked Bradshaw's close-range shot a few seconds later.

The Gators improved to 14-0 at home this season, extended their home winning streak to 16 games and set a school record for their best start in conference play. They broke the previous 7-0 mark set in 2003.

Florida also avenged last year's home loss to Tennessee, a game in which Noah had a tooth knocked out.

 

 

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