Seventeen first-half points from redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario helped the No. 8/9 Florida Gators (8-1) jump out to an early lead and put together a dominant 82-43 victory over the Southeastern Louisiana Lions (1-8) on Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.
Rosario finished the game with 20 points, the most he has scored in his two years as an active player with the Gators. He went 8-for-13 from the field and 4-for-8 from downtown while grabbing a team-high six rebounds and dishing four assists.
Both teams played sloppily to begin the contest with Florida committing three early turnovers and finding itself up just four points with eight minutes having ticked off the clock. A quick 9-0 run capped by a three-pointer from junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin fronted the Gators a 23-10 lead even though the team made just three of its first 11 attempts from beyond the arc.
Rosario took over a few minutes later, scoring 10-straight points as part of a 12-1 run that put Florida ahead 37-19 with 3:40 left in the first half.
After going into the break with 17-point advantage, the Gators scored seven-straight points to increase their lead to 24 while playing stifling defense and holding the Lions scoreless for the first 7:02 of the second half.
A pair of strong one-handed dunks in transition by juniors center Patric Young and forward Casey Prather got the crowd out of its seats as the game neared completion and Florida jumped ahead of Southeastern Louisiana by 31.
Young, who made five of his seven shots and added five boards, finished with 10 points and was the only other Gators player to score in double figures. Wilbekin made three triples for nine points to go along with six rebounds and four dimes. Senior guard Kenny Boynton missed his first six five shots from the field, going 1-for-7 for seven points with a team-high five assists and four boards.
UF won the rebounding battle 40-30, registered 20 assists on 28 made baskets, scored 16 points on turnovers and bested Southeastern Louisiana 30-14 in the paint. The Gators held an opponent under 50 points for the sixth time in the last nine games.
Florida will jump back on the road for its next game as it takes on Kansas State in Kansas City, MO on Saturday. The game will air live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.