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Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 11:32 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(5) Florida 87, Vanderbilt 75
VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Vanderbilt Commodores
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FLORIDA GATORS
Florida Gators
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GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- David Lee scored a career-high 22 points and freshman Anthony Roberson added 20 to lead No. 5 Florida to its 12th straight victory, 87-75, over Vanderbilt in a Southeastern Conference contest.

Lee shot 9-of-11 and Roberson shot 7-of-8 from the field as part of a Gators' attack that shot 56 percent (31-of-55). Roberson made 4-of-5 3-point attempts as Florida (16-2, 5-0 SEC East) connected on 10-of-21 attempts from beyond the arc.

"We have great passers this year with Justin Hamilton at the point guard spot," Lee said. "I was just lucky to be the recipient of some of those passes."

Florida's unselfish play resulted in 23 assists. Hamilton handed out seven and freshman Matt Walsh had five.

Lee scored 15 of his points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half as Florida built a 51-40 lead at intermission. The Gators never fell back from that margin in the second half.

"I think David Lee did a terrific job up front tonight defensively and offensively," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He made us difficult to guard."

Florida is off to its best start ever, topping the 15-3 mark it attained last season, as well as in 2000-01 and 1994-95. The Gators matched the 5-0 conference start accomplished in 1994 and 1961.

Florida avoided its previous struggles with Vanderbilt (8-8, 1-4) under Donovan and defeated the Commodores for the seventh time in 13 tries under its coach. The Gators have won five of the last six games in the series.

The Gators led by as many as 21 points, but Matt Freije scored 11 of his 21 points during a late 16-3 run as the Commodores got as close as 78-70 with 2:40 left.

"We made some adjustments in the second half that we thought helped us a little bit," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "Our team played very hard and at times very well, but it was obvious who was better tonight."

Jason Holwerda scored a career-high 17 points for Vanderbilt, including 13 in the first half when he shot 5-of-5 from the field, including three 3-pointers.

Lee led the Gators with 10 rebounds, while Matt Bonner had nine with his eight points. Bonner has made a 3-pointer in 15 straight games.

Vanderbilt forward Brian Thornton, who entered averaging 13.5 points per game, was limited to four in just 14 minutes. Thornton was primarily defended by Lee.


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