PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Billy Donovan could not have imagined a
The Florida coach and former Providence star was first honored
in a pregame ceremony. Then, his team mimicked his reputation as a
long-range gunner and made nine 3-pointers to beat Providence 87-77
Donovan starred on Rick Pitino's Providence team that reached
the Final Four in 1987, and still ranks 15th on the school's career
scoring list. He was presented with a framed photo collage of his
days as a player, and received a standing ovation.
"I got choked up," Donovan said. "When 19 years passes by and
you go back, to hear the people cheering the way they did and to
honor me that way, I was extremely humbled. I was shocked, taken
back, and I didn't expect anything like that."
Taurean Green led the way with 18 points, including four
3-pointers, as Florida (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10) matched the team's best start since
it opened 10-0 in 1951. Corey Brewer and Al Horford each added 14
The Gators, who led 47-34 at halftime, scored the first six
points of the second half and Providence never got closer than the
Florida opened the game with an 11-0 run, taking advantage of
Providence's struggles on offense. The Friars missed their first 10
shots and committed five turnovers -- Randall Hanke ended the
drought with an inside basket with 13:42 left in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Donnie McGrath drew Providence to 40-34 with 57
seconds left, but Florida went on a 7-0 run capped by Green's 3 at
Providence coach Tim Welsh thought Florida's opening burst set
his team back.
"It felt like three games out there," he said. "They blitzed
us from the get-go. The game got out of hand, then we came back. We
made too many mental and physical mistakes against a team that's so
well-schooled and plays together."
Florida had five players score in double figures and shot 50.9
percent for the game -- just below its season average of 52.9
percent. Providence shot just 25-for-62 for 40.3 percent.
Green said the players knew the game had special meaning to
"We couldn't come here and lose to his alma mater," said
Green, who scored all his field goals on 3-pointers. "We stuck
with our game plan and played hard."
Sharaud Curry scored all 20 of his points in the second half for
Providence (3-3). Hanke, the Friars' leading scorer at 16 points a
game, was held to eight.
Hanke, held out of the starting lineup for the first time this
season, said Donovan's return did not affect the team's
"It was just about getting the win," Hanke said. "We knew we
could play with them -- we showed that tonight. We just didn't get
the results we wanted."