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Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2003 12:31 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(5) Florida 74, Mississippi 55
OLE MISS REBELS
Ole Miss Rebels
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FLORIDA GATORS
Florida Gators
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GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Justin Hamilton and freshman Anthony Roberson sparked a huge run in the second half and reserve Bonell Colas scored 14 points as fifth-ranked Florida cruised to a 74-55 Southeastern Conference victory over Mississippi.

Florida (20-3, 9-1 SEC East) is off to the best start in school history, eclipsing 19-4 starts by last year's team and the 1993-94 squad. The Gators extended their home winning streak to 17 games.

The Gators also became the first team in the SEC to reach 20 victories.

Mississippi (12-9, 3-7 West) bolted out to a 16-8 lead on a steal and a dunk by Aaron Harper with 12:41 remaining before halftime. The Gators responded with 12 straight points and did not trail the rest of the way.

Hamilton scored the first five points of a 20-0 run that opened up a 53-31 cushion. Roberson had a three-point play and a 3-pointer in the spurt which helped bury the Rebels.

Florida improved to 5-0 against West division opponents this season, winning by an average of 14.8 points.

The game also proved to be a showcase for Danish freshman Christian Drejer, who signed with Florida late and has been hyped as a possible NBA lottery selection. Drejer made all three shots and handed out five assists to go with 11 points.

"It was a great feeling today," Drejer said. "It is important to me to be out there and compete as well as contribute to the team."

Drejer's effort was part of a big one by Florida's bench, which outscored the reserves of Mississippi, 45-8. Colas was two points shy of a season high and made 5-of-6 shots while Roberson led all scorers with 15 points.

"I think that the people that really stepped it up tonight was our bench," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Our young guys did a terrific job to be able to win like we did."

Ole Miss committed 18 turnovers, which led to 28 points for Florida. The Rebels shot just 34 percent (18-of-53) and lost their fifth straight.

But the biggest story from Florida's standpoint was the play of Drejer, who missed 15 games due to an assortment of injuries. He nailed his first two 3-pointers of the season and displayed deft passing and handling abilities.

"I thought Christian had a great game for himself," Donovan said. "I was very pleased with the way he played and I hope this game will bring out more confidence in him."

The Gators also clamped down on Harper and Justin Reed, the Rebels' top two scorers. Harper made 3-of-13 shots for 11 points and Reed fouled out with eight points and six rebounds.

Ole Miss also made just 5-of-21 3-pointers, including a 1-of-9 effort from Harper.


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