GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Billy Donovan talked about passion and
They were essential to Florida's march to its first NCAA
basketball championship last season, and the coach reiterated that
to his players after watching the Gators football team upset Ohio
State to make the school the first to hold national titles in those
sports at the same time.
"I really think what the football team did can be such a
valuable lesson," Donovan said Tuesday night after Taurean Green
scored 17 points and Corey Brewer added 13 to lead No. 2 Florida to
a 79-72 victory over Arkansas.
"I think this year's football team was fighting for respect and
recognition, as we were last year. ... I mentioned to our guys
here's a perfect example of a team that maybe wasn't even mentioned
in the same breath with Ohio State. That's the type of recognition
and notoriety our basketball team has received this year. ... It's
different for us than a year ago and we've got to keep that hunger
and that passion."
At halftime, the sellout crowd at the O'Connell Center welcomed
the football team, which beat Ohio State 41-14 on Monday night in
the BCS championship game. Some of the players addressed the fans
and thanked the basketball team for inspiring them.
"Without knowing a lot about the X's and O's, I thought the
most aggressive team won. The hungriest team won," Donovan said of
the BCS matchup. "That's what happened last year for us. We were
aggressive and hungry. We need to make sure we continue that."
The Gators (15-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) built an early
12-point lead, then spent the rest of the night holding off the
Razorbacks (12-4, 1-1), who briefly took the lead before faltering
over the last 10 minutes.
Joakim Noah and Al Horford both scored 11 points for Florida,
which has all five starters back from the team that won the
school's first basketball title last spring. The Gators have won
eight straight since losing at Florida State on Dec. 3.
Arkansas coach Stan Heath felt the Razorbacks played their best
game of the season in routing Alabama 88-61 last Saturday and hoped
his team's quickness and size inside would help neutralize
Florida's frontcourt of Noah, Horford and Brewer.
With Noah and Horford riding the bench for much of the first
half with two fouls, Florida squandered most of an early 12-point
lead before settling for a 37-36 halftime lead.
Patrick Beverley's 3-pointer gave Arkansas its only lead of the
game, 54-53 with 10:30 remaining, however poor long-range shooting
ultimately doomed the Razorbacks.
Arkansas misfired on 13 of 15 shots from behind the 3-point line
and shot 42 percent overall. Meanwhile, Lee Humphrey's third
3-pointer of the game gave Florida a nine-point lead with just over
a minute remaining to end any chance of a comeback by the
"They are only going to give you so many looks. If the shot is
open you have to take the shot," Heath said. "For a while, I
thought we were going to make them, but they just weren't
Gary Ervin had 11 points and nine assists for Arkansas, while
Beverley, the Razorbacks' leading scorer, had 10 points of 3-for-10
Despite having a four-game winning streak stopped, Heath was
encouraged about where Arkansas is headed.
"We made a great turnaround from Christmas to where we are
now," he said. "I think the two teams we just went up against are
the two best teams in the conference, and we played well in those