MIAMI (AP) -- For the first time, Billy Donovan wanted his alma
mater to lose. And Matt Walsh made that happen.
Walsh scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, helping Florida (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) defeat Providence 84-66 Saturday and earning MVP honors
for the third time in three appearances at the Orange Bowl Classic.
"I've had three pretty good games here," said Walsh, who led
Florida past Miami two years ago and West Virginia last season at
the event. "I don't know if it's the arena or the atmosphere or
what. Every time I come here I've had great experiences, but we've
also had three wins -- and I think that's the most important
Walsh was 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range
for the Gators (3-0). Anthony Roberson added 17 points and seven
assists for Florida, which hit 57 percent of its shots.
Ryan Gomes had 17 points for Providence (4-2), which was playing
its third game in four days.
Tuukka Kotti had a career-high 17 -- 16 in the first half -- for
the Friars, who lost to No. 1 Wake Forest in Wednesday's Preseason
NIT semifinals, beat Michigan in Friday's consolation game at
Madison Square Garden, then boarded a charter flight to Miami and
faced the Gators 17 hours after landing.
"It's been a good learning experience," Gomes said. "I don't
think there's any games on the schedule that'll be like this. We
competed with the No. 1 team in the country three days ago, and
competing against two good ranked teams ... makes us better as a
It was the first time Donovan coached against Providence, the
school he led to the 1987 Final Four as a player. Donovan, a 1999
inductee to the Friars' Hall of Fame, averaged 20.6 points that
season for Rick Pitino's club, won the team's MVP award twice and
still ranks among Providence's top 15 in career scoring.
The weary Friars could have used some of his spark down the
stretch Saturday. Providence managed only two field goals in the
"I follow those guys every single game," Donovan said. "I
still look for Providence scores. I want to see them do well. I'm
very thankful for the people at Providence who touched my life, who
took an active interest in me personally basketball-wise. It was a
Until the final minutes, Providence hung tough against a team
that hadn't played since Tuesday.
Dwight Brewington's two free throws with 8:25 left brought
Providence within 62-55, but the Friars didn't score again for more
than 3 minutes -- and Florida pulled away with a quick 8-0 run.
Lee hit two free throws and Walsh then connected on back-to-back
3-pointers for a 70-55 lead with 6:02 left. Another Walsh basket
with 3:45 left pushed Florida's margin to 74-57.
Gomes hit a pair of 3-pointers within a 22-second span, cutting
the margin to 74-63, but the Friars didn't seriously threaten the
"The gas tank ran empty the last six, seven minutes,"
Providence coach Tim Welsh said. "We were hanging with them but we
couldn't get over that hump. Against a good team, if you don't keep
scoring and get a couple stops, they can pull away quick. And they
did. They have a lot of answers."
"We've got a lot of young guys who got a lot of experience the
last few days," Gomes said. "That'll help down the road."