Dec. 2, 2001
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - All-American Udonis Haslem took control of the second half to lead No. 6 Florida to an 81-65 victory over Tulane University on Sunday afternoon at the O'Connell Center.
The loss is the first of the season for Tulane, which drops to 4-1, while the Gators improve to 4-1.
Tulane put Haslem in foul trouble early in the game, drawing the second violation against the Gator big man just 1:54 into the game. With Haslem sitting the bench, Tulane battled closely, trailing by just nine at the break.
"I though we came out and handled the press well," Tulane head coach Shawn Finney said. "We had trouble in the half-court offense, that was what was frustrating, too many foolish turnovers in the half court."
Tulane had 10 first-half turnovers, while forcing 12 by the Gators. Both teams scored 13 points off of turnovers in the opening half.
However, in the second half, Haslem took over. Tulane freshman Ben Benfield (River Ridge, La.) converted a putback in the lane to make it 42-33 with 16:28 to go. Haslem proceeded to 11 consecutive points for the Gators, while the Wave managed just a three-pointer from freshman Marcus Kinzer (Nashville, Tenn.), as Florida opened up a 17-point lead, 53-36 with 13:51 to go.
"Haslem really took over for that stretch in the second half," Finney said. "He is a really big guy down there and without question one of the best players in the country in the post."
Kinzer, who led the Wave with a career-high 13 points, kept the Wave in the game with his hot-shooting. A three-pointer with 10:23 to go made it 59-44, but Florida responded with two hoops from David Lee. Kinzer found the bottom of the net again on a fast break runner to make it 63-46 with 9:21 on the clock.
A drive by Matt Bonner and a dunk from Bonell Colas pushed the margin back to 21, but a layup by Ivan Pjevcevic (nine points) and another three by Kinzer keyed a 12-2 Green Wave run. Brandon Spann assisted on back-to-back hoops, a layup by Nick Sinville and a jumper from Kinzer. Haslem scored again from the baeline, but Spann buried a 21-foot pull-up jumper making it 69-58 with 4:52 to go.
In addition to Kinzer's 13 points, Spann and Waitari Marsh each scored 10 points. Spann also added five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Florida was led by 16 points from Bonner, 13 from Haslem (all in the second half) and 12 each from Nelson and James White.
"There are some positives to take out of this game, and some negatives," Finney continued. "I was pleased with the effort, guys played hard and didn't give up. Marcus Kinzer came in and gave us a lift. It was good to see our freshman respond well to this type of team and atmosphere.
"This was a good barometer to come out and see where we stand. I am not about moral victories, but I think we will grow from this."
The Green Wave now returns home to Fogelman Arena to host crosstown rival New Orleans at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The teams will be battling for the Senators Cup, presented to the winner by either Francis Heitmeier (UNO alum) or John Hainkel (Tulane alum), both Louisiana senators who are sponsoring the event.