No. 1 Florida 86, North Florida 40

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Florida coach Billy Donovan expected a letdown after the Gators played so well in the season opener last week. He was pleased to see another beatdown.

Al Horford had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Joakim Noah added 15 points and 10 rebounds and top-ranked Florida overwhelmed winless North Florida 86-40 on Tuesday night.

“When you have both frontcourt players with a double-double it’s pretty good,” Donovan said.

The defending national champions extended their winning streak to 13 games and dominated for the second time in two games this season.

The Gators (2-0) shot 59 percent, had 16 assists, 12 offensive rebounds, 12 blocks and just six turnovers against Samford in the opener last week.

They were nearly as sharp against the Ospreys (0-3) despite a sluggish start, shooting 54 percent and finishing with 21 assists, 16 offensive rebounds, seven blocks and seven turnovers.

“A lot of people keep talking about keeping them motivated, keeping them hungry, keeping them focused,” Donovan said. “Maybe the first game was a little bit easier. This was a game you could look at and think maybe there’s going to be a little bit of a letdown. But I thought our guys came in very focused and ready to play.”

Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey had 12 apiece to give Florida four starters in double figures.

The Gators had some faults in the first half, missing nine free throws, going 1-of-6 from 3-point range and committing five turnovers. But they quickly turned an 18-point halftime lead into a rout by opening the second half with a 30-8 run.

Florida scored nearly every time down the floor and used a full-court press to force North Florida into turnovers and poor shots.

Horford and Noah had several dunks and layups in the decisive run. Humphrey and Green combined for three 3-pointers. Corey Brewer scored his only basket of the game and led the press.

“He was disruptive,” Donovan said of Brewer. “He allowed us to go on a great run in the second half.”

Rashad Williams led the Ospreys with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

North Florida shot 31 percent and finished with 26 turnovers.

“I guess we got a taste of why they’re the No. 1 team in the nation,” coach Matt Kilcullen said. “This is one of the best shot-blocking teams I’ve ever seen. They come at you from all angles, and it’s not just one or two. They cover a lot of ground.”

A lot of the UNF’s problems related to being undersized; the team doesn’t have a single player over 6 feet, 8 inches. The Gators, meanwhile, have three starters taller than that.

The result was Horford and Noah controlling the paint and the glass.

“You’ve got to be somewhat realistic: there was nobody in the frontcourt on their team that had the size and physicality of Al,” Donovan said.

Fans headed to the exits with 7:57 to play and the Gators ahead 70-30. The starters headed to the bench with 6:41 remaining, giving way to the backups and freshmen.

The best of the bunch was Marreese Speights, who had eight points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.

“It’s always good for them to get some playing time,” Horford said. “They work so hard in practice and it’s very rewarding when they can go in there and get some solid minutes.”

The game was the first of four in eight days for the Gators—a tuneup for Nov. 24-25 games against Western Kentucky and Kansas in Las Vegas.

“I don’t think we’re playing championship-caliber basketball,” Noah said. “But I don’t think anybody is right now.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 North Florida
R. Williams R. Williams
8-16,  21 Pts
6 Rebs, 0 Assists
A. Horford A. Horford
8-12,  17 Pts
11 Rebs, 3 Assists

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Tuesday, Nov 14