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Florida defense clamps down in rout of Texas A&M

The SportsXchange

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Another road game, another suffocating defensive effort for No. 10 Florida.

Mike Rosario led Florida with 19 points, and the 10th-ranked Gators earned a 68-47 win over Texas A&M at Reed Arena.

Patric Young added 18 points and seven rebounds for Florida (13-2, 3-0 SEC), while Erik Murphy had 16 points and seven rebounds. The Gators held an opponent under 50 points for the eighth time in 15 games this season.

The Gators held Texas A&M to 34 percent shooting from the floor (17-for-50) and 30 percent from 3-point range (3-for-10).

"I think people don't give them enough credit defensively," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "They are very good defensively. Patric Young is the most improved I've seen, last year to this year. They're just a very disciplined team."

Florida coach Billy Donovan said, "From a preparation standpoint, figuring out what we've got to take away, our guys have bought into that."

Alex Caruso led Texas A&M (12-4, 2-1) with 12 points off the bench. Freshman J'Mychal Reese was the only Texas A&M starter to reach double figures, scoring 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

Elston Turner, who scored 40 points in Texas A&M's 83-71 upset win against Kentucky on Saturday, was held to four points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Florida junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin shadowed Turner throughout the game.

"Scottie Wilbekin did a terrific job," Donovan said. "(Wilbekin) was able to get through screens, and then guys did a good job at the end of screens providing a little bit of help."

Up 35-18 at halftime, Florida extended its lead to as many as 30 points in the second half. Texas A&M couldn't get back into the game, making just one of its first 10 second-half shots.

"It's huge because you want to step on the gas, you don't want to give teams hope, and then come back into the game," Young said. "Coach always says, 'Go for the jugular. You should want to step on their throats.' He always says that; we were able to do that."

Kennedy said he felt as if his team were sulking to start the second half.

"Our effort wasn't very good," Kennedy said. "We had our heads down a little bit."

Rosario scored 11 of Florida's first 13 points, helping the Gators jump to an early 13-9 lead. He made four of his first five attempts, including three straight 3-pointers.

"I knew once I was going to get some looks, I was going to take them," Rosario said. "They started falling early, and I kept getting confidence."

Texas A&M answered with a 5-0 run, taking a 14-13 lead on a putback from Kourtney Roberson. Florida regained the lead on a Murphy jumper.

Texas A&M cut Florida's lead to 21-18 on Turner's only basket of the game, a 12-foot pull-up jumper. But the Gators closed the half with a 14-0 run, holding Texas A&M scoreless for the final 5:30 before the break.

That stretch included 3-pointers from Murphy and Rosario and four points inside from Young.

The Gators shot 50 percent (25-for-50) from the floor for the game, and they prevailed despite being outrebounded 33-28.

NOTES: Rosario returned to the starting lineup after missing the LSU game with a sprained ankle. ... Florida junior forward Casey Prather sat out the game following a high ankle sprain he suffered against LSU. Prather is expected to be out 10 to 14 days. ... Texas A&M honored its Cotton Bowl-winning football team at halftime. ... Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel was presented the performer of the year at halftime by the College Football Performance Awards organization. ... With the win, Florida improved to 4-1 on the road. The Gators have posted their four victories by an average margin of 22.3 points.

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