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Arkansas builds big lead, knocks off No. 2 Florida

The SportsXchange

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Mike Anderson was all smiles following the biggest win of his two-year tenure as coach at Arkansas.

The Razorbacks upset No. 2 Florida 80-69 Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena, their largest victory margin against a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 2 Auburn 104-88 on Feb. 24, 1999.

"It was good to see us come out and perform, more than anything else," Anderson said. "It just tells me that we're growing up. I told people before the season you're going to see this team change before your eyes. We've taken some lumps, but at the same time, you can see the growth."

Arkansas (14-8, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) overwhelmed Florida with a quick start and led by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Razorbacks improved to 14-1 at home this season.

Sophomore guard B.J. Young led Arkansas with 13 points. Marshawn Powell and Michael Qualls added 11 points apiece for the Razorbacks.

The Razorbacks' reserves outscored the Gators' bench 40-12, and Arkansas outrebounded Florida 34-33.

"That was our goal tonight, to attack and play physical and don't let them beat us on the boards to much," Powell said.

The Gators (18-3, 8-1) had their 10-game winning streak snapped, as they couldn't overcome a 17-point halftime deficit. Mike Rosario led Florida with 15 points.

"We just got outplayed in every part of the game," Florida senior forward Erik Murphy said. "We didn't guard. We didn't execute on offense."

Scottie Wilbekin had 14 points and seven rebounds for Florida, which got 11 points and nine rebounds from freshman Michael Frazier and 10 points from Kenny Boynton.

"It's a reality check for us, to let us know that there's a lot we still need to work on," Boynton said. "Better now than later."

From the opening tip, the Razorbacks showed no fear against the second-ranked Gators. Powell and Mardracus Wade hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Arkansas up 6-0.

The long-range baskets kept coming for the Razorbacks. Arkansas made five of its first six 3-point attempts to build an early 26-10 lead. After a 3-pointer from Rosario cut Arkansas' lead to 26-13, the Razorbacks answered with a 10-0 run, extending their lead to 36-13 on a tip-in from freshman Jacorey Williams.

Arkansas made seven of its first nine 3-point attempts and 10 of its first 13 shots from the field. Florida, which came into the game second in the nation in scoring defense at 51 points per game, allowed a season-high 80 points. The Gators' previous season high in points allowed was 67 in a six-point loss to Kansas State.

"We did a really poor job putting our hands up," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Some of our close-outs, we let them shoot the ball with their feet set. They didn't have too many off-balance shots."

Florida put together a 10-3 run, cutting Arkansas' lead 39-23 on a 3-pointer from Wilbekin. Frazier added a 3-pointer to cut the Arkansas lead to 41-26, but Young hit two free throws with 1:17 left, putting the visitors up 43-26 at halftime.

Florida's defense was hampered inside by the limited playing time of junior center Patric Young, who picked up two first-half fouls. Florida junior forward Will Yeguete also sat out most of the first half due to lingering knee tendinitis. The Gators shot just 29.2 percent from the field in the first half (7-for-24), while Arkansas shot 53.3 percent (16-for-30).

"I generally don't play a guy with two fouls (in the first half), but because of our frontcourt depth and fatigue, I had to sub Murphy some," Donovan said. "We were probably pretty fortunate to get out of the half with Patric only having two fouls. We played a lot of zone in the first half, just because of trying to protect him with some fouls. But our depth was definitely somewhat of an issue there."

For the game, Arkansas hit 47.5 percent of its shots from the floor (28 of 59), while Florida made 41.8 percent (23 of 55).

The Razorbacks forced 16 turnovers while giving the ball away just nine times.

NOTES: Donovan said he's "concerned" about Yeguete's knee tendinitis, adding that the 6-foot-7 forward will have an MRI on Wednesday. "He said he felt like he tweaked his knee and they took him back in the locker room and he had some significant swelling," Donovan said. The coach said Yeguete had been limited in practices the past few weeks due to knee swelling. ... Seven of 11 Arkansas players scored at least one point. ... With the win against No. 2 Florida, Arkansas improved to 6-8 all-time against teams with a No. 2 ranking.
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