ATLANTA (AP) -- Anthony Roberson scored 19 points and Florida (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, Unranked AP) hit
a season-high 12 3-pointers to cruise to an 80-64 victory over
Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern
Conference tournament Friday.
The Gators (21-7) are starting to look like a strong title
contender with their fifth straight win, including a victory over No. 4
Kentucky in the regular-season finale.
They'll sure be tough to beat if Roberson, Matt Walsh and Corey
Brewer can keep shooting like this. Roberson and Brewer made three
3s apiece and Walsh hit five as the Gators went 12 of 24 from
beyond the arc -- at times way beyond.
Florida, which has never won the SEC tournament, meets Alabama (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) in the semifinals on Saturday. The Gators dominated the
last meeting 85-54 on Feb. 5.
The league's top rebounding team, the Bulldogs (22-10) looked
helpless on the boards with center Marcus Campbell out with a
strained left calf muscle and Lawrence Roberts often ineffective. They still appear destined for the NCAA tournament.
Roberts had just eight points -- all in the first half -- and five
rebounds in 26 minutes and Mississippi State was outrebounded
41-26. It was only the second time an SEC opponent had grabbed more
boards than the Bulldogs this season.
Brewer had 17 points for Florida and Walsh added 15. David Lee
had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
The Gators spiced up an often sloppy first half with some
highlight-reel plays to take a 46-29 lead that eventually grew to
Lee had a reverse dunk off a backward bounce pass from Walsh,
who then hit back-to-back 3-pointers. A few minutes later, Walsh
drained another 3 with the shot clock winding down -- from several
feet beyond the arc. The Gators left the court amid chest-bumping
and fist-pumping after Adrian Moss's tip-in at the buzzer, a
celebration that didn't prove premature.
The Bulldogs couldn't get closer than 15 points after the first
basket of the second half. They tried to battle back with
3-pointers but few went in until the game was out of reach,
finishing 9 of 25.