Florida clamps down on defense, holding Turner to four points
COLLEGE STATION — No. 10 Florida smacked Texas A&M, 68-47, on Thursday evening at Reed Arena, unceremoniously halting the Aggies’ previously rosy start in the SEC.
A&M (12-4, 2-1 SEC) was riding a 2-0 conference record, including a win Saturday at Kentucky, and playing in front of its best home crowd (11,046) of the season. But Florida (13-2, 3-0) used spirited defense to hold A&M to its season scoring low and shot 50 percent with a balanced offense. While overwhelming the Aggies, the Gators displayed what some of the best of A&M’s new league has to offer.
“We lost to a very good team,” A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “They were more physical than us at every position. They’re very hard to guard. Their maturity and toughness was evident.”
Florida’s Mike Rosario led all scorers with 19 points, Patric Young had 18 and Erik Murphy scored 16. Freshman guard Alex Caruso led A&M with 12 points. Freshman guard J’Mychal Reese, the only other Aggie to reach double figures, had 10.
The notable name missing is Elston Turner, A&M’s senior guard who poured in 40 points in the win at Kentucky. Florida held him to four points on 1-of-10 shooting, including 0-4 from 3-point range. Turner entered the game averaging 17.1 points and had scored in double digits in each game this season. A&M doesn’t have another consistent offensive threat.
“Elston’s had nights like that this year,” Kennedy said. “They were aware of where he was. They knew every set, they were prepared and physically they wore him down.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan credited the defense of Scottie Wilbekin, with Wilbekin fighting through screens to stay on Turner, then getting help from post players if Turner put the ball on the floor.