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Updated: Sunday, February 8, 2004 1:10 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(21) Florida 81, (25) Vanderbilt 71

GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- With nearly flawless free-throw shooting, Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson made sure there was no collapse this time.

No. 21 Florida led from start to finish and made 21 straight free throws in the second half of an 81-71 victory over 25th-ranked Vanderbilt in a battle of Southeastern Conference rivals.

Walsh and Roberson scored 25 points apiece and combined to go 20-of-21 from the line as the Gators avenged an 86-72 loss at Vanderbilt on January 17.

Florida (14-6, 5-4 SEC East) was coming off back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Kentucky. In the 68-65 loss to Kentucky, the Gators blew an 11-point lead and failed to score in the final three minutes.

This time, Florida held its lead as it consistently broke Vanderbilt's press and made 25-of-26 free throws in the second half. Walsh made all 10 of his attempts in the final 3:32 and Roberson hit six straight free throws in the last 2:22.

Vanderbilt (14-5, 3-5 SEC East) lost its 13th consecutive conference road game dating to last season.

Matt Freije, the SEC's third-leading scorer, led the Commodores with 18 points but hit just 5-of-15 shots.

Despite a huge disparity at the line, Vanderbilt hung close most of the way. The Gators made 35-of-39 at the line while the Commodores converted just 11-of-20 free throws.

Roberson hit a 3-pointer and Walsh converted a layup to give Florida a 5-0 lead in the first 78 seconds. But the first half was close throughout, and the Gators held a 33-30 lead at the intermission.

Roberson erupted for 22 points in the second half. He made three straight 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes, increasing the lead to 44-32.

But Vanderbilt pulled within 61-56 on a pair of free throws by Frieje with 3:26 left before Roberson connected on his fifth 3-pointer with 2:52 remaining.

After Vanderbilt's Russel Lakey converted a layup, Walsh and Roberson combined to make 14-of-14 from the line in the final two-plus minutes. Christian Drejer ended the streak of free throws with a miss with just 22 seconds to go.


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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