Dec. 21, 2013
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Like the three other teams in the Orange Bowl Classic, Fresno State found the rims at the BB&T Center to be unforgiving.
The Bulldogs clanked one shot after another Saturday, made a season-low 32 percent and lost to No. 16 Florida 66-49.
Players said the rims were stiff at the arena, which is used mostly for NHL games.
"I looked at them as street-ball rims," Fresno State's Cezar Guerrero said. "You really needed a swish to get it through the hoop."
The Bulldogs didn't do that much. They went 4 for 17 from 3-point range, including a basket from near midcourt at the final buzzer by Paul Watson.
Florida's defense was a factor, too.
"This was probably our best game defensively from start to finish," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "I was happy with the way we guarded. They weren't able to score quickly on us. They had to go deep into the shot clock."
Fresno State (6-6) lost its third game in a row and fell to 1-5 away from home.
"It was an honor to come in here and compete against one of the best teams in the country," coach Rodney Terry said.
Guerrero had 17 points. Watson and Marvelle Harris added 10 each, but the Bulldogs' bench totaled only four points, and Fresno State was outrebounded 47-24.
Casey Prather scored 16 points for the Gators (9-2) and was voted the game's most valuable player.
In the first game of the doubleheader, No. 22 Massachusetts lost to Florida State 60-55.
The Bulldogs hung with Florida at the start, and despite their shooting woes trailed only 23-19 at halftime.
"Our guys competed at a high level - for 20 minutes," Terry said.
The Gators went 1 for 13 from 3-point range in the first half, but defense kept them in the lead. Defense was an area Donovan emphasized in practice after Florida gave up 75 points Tuesday in a win over Memphis.
"We did a great job doing things we've been trying to do in practice," Prather said. "We've just been trying every day to stay hungry as possible to get better on defense and become great defensively."
While Fresno State missed 34 shots, the Bulldogs had only nine offensive rebounds. The Gators' edge on the boards was by far their largest this year.
"We knew going in that on the glass they're a monster to deal with," Terry said.
Florida's Will Yeguete had five offensive rebounds and a season-high 10 total.
"The most underrated guy tonight was Will," Donovan said. "He was awesome."
Scottie Wilbekin had 11 points and Yeguete nine for the Gators, who won away from Gainesville for the third time this season. Patric Young, who didn't start because of a sore knee, contributed eight points and nine rebounds.
The Gators shot 29 percent in the first half and 58 percent in the second half.
"It was a tale of two halves," Donovan said. "We hung in there with our defense."
Michael Frazier II, Wilbekin and Kasey Hill each sank a 3-pointer as Florida outscored Fresno State 15-4 to start the second half and open up a 15-point lead. A basket by Yeguete made it 55-35, and the margin reached 26 with 2:40 left.
The Gators finished with 20 offensive rebounds.
"That helped us a lot, because in the first half we missed a lot of shots and kept getting the ball back," Yeguete said. "That helped get us going."
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