Nick Calathes flirts with triple-double in Gators’ 91-52 win over FAMU

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Nick Calathes has been at his best since his benching.

Calathes flirted with the second triple-double in school history, finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds and nine assists and leading Florida to a 91-52 victory against overmatched Florida A&M on Wednesday night.

It was Calathes’ third consecutive game with at least 20 points—all since coach Billy Donovan benched the talented freshman because of poor shot selection against Florida State.

Calathes has responded exactly how Donovan had hoped.

He has 65 points on 20-of-36 shooting, 14 rebounds and 21 assists in the last three games, all wins.

“I think he’s grown a lot,” Donovan said. “But I told him on the bench, ‘If you embrace this and think you’ve got it all figured out, you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.’ This has been because of a focus and maybe me being on him excessively and me sitting him. He’s gotten better, and that’s all I want to see our guys do: get better and play the game the right way.

“We saw Nick 12 days ago out of control, fast, bad shots, low percentage, turnovers, trying to make big plays and really exhausting our team in a lot of ways. Now, all of a sudden, he’s playing with the right tempo.”

Former Florida star Corey Brewer recorded the program’s first triple-double in 2005 against Jacksonville. Donovan reinserted Brewer into the game with a big lead to get the milestone.

Calathes probably could have joined Brewer in the record book, but Donovan pulled the versatile swingman with nearly 5 minutes to play.

“I’m not going to keep him in there to go do that,” Donovan said. “We’re too young to play for Nick Calathes to get a triple-double.”

Calathes finished 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

“I knew I filled the stat sheet up,” Calathes said. “I knew I had a lot of rebounds, a lot of assists, but I didn’t know I was close to a triple-double. It’ll happen. It’ll happen sooner or later, and I still have a lot more chances to get that.”

Fellow freshman Adam Allen added 19 points for the Gators (9-1), and Marreese Speights chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jai Lucas had 11 points as Florida improved to 9-0 against Florida A&M.

Larry Jackson and Oliver Prince scored 14 points apiece to lead the Rattlers (2-6), who shot 29 percent from the floor and were dominated 44-27 on the boards.

Florida was bigger, stronger and faster at every position. The Gators shot 63 percent from the field, were 12-of-24 from behind the arc and had 27 assists.

“Everybody has a better understanding now as opposed to the beginning of the year, and it’s showing,” Allen said.

Florida trailed 5-2 shortly after the tip, but then used a barrage of 3-pointers and a 24-0 run to go up big.

Walter Hodge, Allen, Lucas and Calathes each made a shot from behind the arc in the run. Calathes and Allen each added another to push the lead to 36-13 late in the first half.

The Rattlers trailed 44-20 at the break and didn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

The Gators opened the final 20 minutes with a 17-0 run, using good ball movement to get open looks, knocking down more 3-pointers and prompting Donovan to call it the team’s best offensive performance of the season.

The defense wasn’t bad, either. The Gators held FAMU without a field goal for more than 6 1/2 minutes in the second half, not quite as bad as the 8-minute drought the Rattlers endured during the big first-half run.

“They’re big inside, so if you drop inside and they kick it back out and you have shooters like they have, there’s nothing you can do about it,” FAMU coach Eugene Harris said.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Florida A&M
O. Prince O. Prince
4-8,  14 Pts
4 Rebs, 2 Assists
N. Calathes N. Calathes
7-11,  20 Pts
8 Rebs, 9 Assists

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