No. 1 Florida 101, Western Kentucky 68

Preview | Box Score | Recap

LAS VEGAS (AP)—A cross country trip. A flu bug. An unbeaten opponent on an unfamiliar floor.

None of it could slow down Corey Brewer, and his teammates followed his superb lead in another November masterpiece for top-ranked Florida.

Next up is Kansas, the toughest test yet—but these Gators have had more than enough answers to every question they’ve faced so far in defense of their NCAA title.

Brewer had 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six steals to lead another impressively balanced attack in Florida’s school record-tying 17th consecutive victory, 101-68 over Western Kentucky on Friday night in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Taurean Green had 19 points and six assists, and Al Horford added 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Gators (6-0) rolled over a solid Hilltoppers squad with a 28-6 run to close the first half of Florida’s 26th straight win over nonconference opponents.

Brewer, the Gators’ versatile junior forward, did a bit of everything in their outstanding first half with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals despite battling the flu.

“I’m just a little sick,” Brewer said. “We had to get out on the break and get runs started. We had to come out with a lot of energy.”

Seven players scored at least five points apiece as Florida took an 18-point halftime lead and coasted from there, with Brewer finishing four points shy of his career high.

“He certainly set the stage for us,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “Corey’s energy kept us hanging around, and he made some great plays in transition. He was terrific.”

The Gators’ win was comprehensive: They were 20-of-22 on free throws while outrebounding Western Kentucky 44-21 and making nearly 61 percent of their shots.

Joakim Noah added 10 points as six Gators scored in double figures while tuning up for Saturday night’s showdown with No. 10 Kansas—and this dominant performance showed the Jayhawks should be wary.

Though Kansas will have the backing of several thousand fans at the Orleans Arena, the 4-1 Jayhawks struggled to finish off Ball State 64-46 in the early game before the Gators showed off in their first contest of the season away from Gainesville.

“Although we are in Las Vegas, we are in Lawrence (Saturday), which should be a challenge for our guys,” Donovan said.

The defending national champions added a few more milestones to their remarkable run in their first appearance in Las Vegas in nearly 21 years. Florida equaled its season-opening winning streak during last season’s championship run—and also won its 19th straight game in November over the last four seasons.

Courtney Lee scored 16 points and Benson Callier had 15 for Western Kentucky (4-1), which will face Ball State on Friday night. Tyrone Brazelton added 13 points as the Hilltoppers gave solid efforts, but simply couldn’t keep up with Florida’s talent.

Western Kentucky actually started well, with strong defense and two 3-pointers from Callier on the way to an early 26-22 lead. But after Donovan called a timeout and switched to a zone defense, and his team responded with every bit of its aggressiveness and athleticism in one dizzying run after another.

“Guys were hyped up at the beginning, but when they came back, we didn’t know how to respond,” Callier said. “It caught a lot of us off-guard. We didn’t know how to respond in that situation.”

The Gators scored the next 13 points, including two baskets and two assists by Brewer. After Western Kentucky finally leveled the court with consecutive baskets, Florida finished the first half on a 15-2 run featuring six consecutive points by Noah.

Brewer hit a 3-pointer in the final second of the first half, then sprinted across the court and straight to the locker room with his jubilant teammates behind him, celebrating a 50-32 lead.

Florida steadily increased its lead early in the second half, prompting Western Kentucky coach Darrin Horn to slam down his clipboard with enough ferocity to send his felt pen flying to center court from his timeout huddle.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 West. Kentucky
C. Lee C. Lee
7-11,  16 Pts
1 Rebs, 3 Assists
C. Brewer C. Brewer
7-14,  22 Pts
9 Rebs, 7 Assists

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Friday, Nov 24