Gators beat FSU for first time since 2002
TALLAHASSEE - Florida's Erik Murphy was in the right place at the right time. Not that he planned it that way. His putback with 16 seconds left kept the Gators out of trouble after Florida State's Michael Snaer made a 3-pointer and No. 16 Florida beat the Seminoles 55-51 Sunday night. "Honestly, it was luck," Murphy said. "I just turned around and looked and the ball was falling into my hand. I just went up with it." "That was really kind of a lucky play," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Sometimes it's really difficult to block out on an air ball. And it was a nice play by Erik."Kenny Boynton scored 14 points for Florida and Murphy led the Gators with six rebounds. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton expected to see Florida throw a zone defense at his taller club, but he'd hoped his team would handle it better. "They played us all zone and they don't do that very often," Hamilton said. "They were a lot more aggressive attacking the basket. We didn't attack." Florida State shot just 33.3 percent against the smaller, quicker Gators and their leading scorer on the season, Chris Singleton, was just two of 12 from the field. "We were struggling to score regardless and I just decided to go maybe with our better defensive team," Donovan said. The Seminoles (5-1) couldn't get over the hump, closing to within a single point on three occasions late in the game - the last time at 49-48 on Deividas Dulkys' layup with 2:26 left. Snaer's career-best fifth 3-pointer of the game cut Florida's lead to 53-51 with 51 seconds left before Murphy's basket. Snaer helped Florida State get back into the game after falling behind by 13 points early in the second half. "We missed out on a very good opportunity tonight and it's back to the drawing board," said Hamilton, whose Seminoles host third ranked Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday. Snaer, who missed just once from long distance, scored 15 points. "He brought us back basically by himself," Hamilton said. The Gators (5-1) opened a 53-48 lead with 1:20 left on two free throws by Murphy coming just 17 seconds after two by Boynton. Florida made 17 of 25 free throws while Florida State scored six points from the line. The Gators also had a 35-31 rebounding advantage. It was the first real test of the season for Florida State, which won its first five games by an average of 22 points over inferior opponents. The undefeated Buckeyes handed Florida its only loss of the season, 93-75, Nov. 16 in Gainesville. The Gators led almost from the start, taking advantage of poor Florida State shooting on its way to a 30-21 halftime lead and led by as many as 13, at 41-28 early in the second half. Murphy made a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with 3 seconds left before halftime.