Florida Rips New Hampshire

After a difficult trip to paradise, No. 11 Florida came home in need of an ego boost. Enter New Hampshire, a struggling program that had the bad fortune of landing on the Gators schedule this season.

The result was a 131-72 victory for Florida on Monday night. Led by Mike Miller's 19 points, the Gators had six players in double figures and set a school record for points.

Florida (4-1) played its second straight game without starting forward Brent Wright, who was suspended for showing up for a team meeting with a bad attitude that seemed to pervade the team after a loss to No. 19 Purdue last week in Maui.

Billy Donovan felt his team was selfish and unfocused on the island, where they averaged just 71 points in three games. He wanted the Gators to respond by moving the ball better and playing more tenacious defense.

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  • "When you share the ball and move it and make the extra pass, with our style of play, there are enough shots to go around for everybody," Donovan said. "Today, our team made a serious effort to move the ball, make the extra pass and play unselfishly. They also tried to cause as much havoc as possible defensively."

    Of course, the improved play wasn't all that necessary to beat New Hampshire (1-3), an overmatched team that found a spot on Florida's schedule after Donovan landed freshman forward Matt Bonner of Concord, N.H.

    Like most of the Florida bench, Bonner got plentiful playing time. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Another backup, Brett Nelson, had 18 points.

    Starting in Wright's place, freshman Donnell Harvey finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Udonis Haslem had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Kenyan Weaks hit three 3-pointers to finish with 15 points.

    ThGators recorded the third-largest margin of victory in team history. The 131 points surpassed the record of 121 the Gators scored Dec. 30, 1975 against Roosevelt College.

    "I think if you focus on scoring, it never happens, you always have a bad night," Donovan said. "But when you focus on other things, sometimes it comes to you. Tonight, we focused on dribbling, the press, ball movement and all of the sudden, there you go, we have five, six guys in double figures."

    Donovan kept the press on through midway in the second half and the lead got as high as 64. He said the team needed as much practice as it could get. First-year Wildcats coach Phil Rowe didn't have any problem with the strategy.

    "It was a very good education and experience for our guys," Rowe said. "We aspire to play the way they played tonight. They're bigger, stronger, faster, a terrific basketball team. I need to use that as an example for us."

    Assane Faye of Senegal had 13 points for New Hampshire, a struggling program from the America East Conference, which has had only eight winning seasons since World War II.

    The Wildcats kept the game respectable for about 12 minutes, but Florida's press overwhelmed the Wildcats.

    Leading 31-19, the Gators finished the first half on a 27-12 run and the final 20 minutes were nothing more than practice for Florida.

    Mark Yeaton and Marcelle Williams had 10 points each for the Wildcats, who got a 3-pointer from Chris Brown and a three-point play by Austin Ganly for an early 6-2 lead, their only bright spot on an otherwise dreary night.

    Florida expects more of the same through the new year. Beginning Saturday with a game against Florida A&M, the Gators play six of seven in December at home against nonconference teams that finished last season with losing records.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed