Gators Survive U'State Scare


It isn't often a player who didn't have a point or a rebound is credited with saving the game.

Major Parker, whose boxscore line was loaded with zeros, blocked a 3-pointer by Troy Rolle with six seconds left Monday and No. 6 Florida withstood a poor shooting game for a 60-58 victory over Utah State in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

"As soon as I went in the game for that play I told Kenyan Weaks I was guarding Rolle," said Parker, a junior forward who averaged 5 points in each of his first two seasons. "Kenyan told me the play they would run for him with a double screen and he was right. I knew he was left-handed so I went right at him and I got it."

As expected, Utah State thought there was a foul on the play but none was called.

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  • "It was a clean block," Parker said with utmost assurance of his second rejection of the game. The other was also against Rolle in the first half.

    The Gators (2-0), who have 11 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, will play No. 22 Purdue, a 96-78 winner over Chaminade, in Tuesday's semifinals.

    Donnell Harvey's rebound basket with 1:16 left gave Florida the lead for good, 59-58, and it was the seventh lead change in the final 4 1/2 minutes.

    Parker's block saved the win for the Gators, who were 8-for-32 from 3-point range, 2-for-12 in the second half.

    "We didn't shoot the ball particularly well and I think we're one of the better shooting teams in the country," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We didn't get the ball inside enough and we were very fortunate to win. This certainly was not the same team that played Friday night."

    The Gators opened the season with a 96-61 victory over Florida State.

    "Those wer two different teams but we did not get rattled as a young team," Donovan said. "We hung in and actually showed some signs of maturity."

    Bernard Rock's only 3-pointer of the game gave the Aggies (1-1) a 58-57 lead with 1:37 left. Florida's Mike Miller missed a 3 on the next possession but Harvey put back the rebound and the Gators had the lead for good.

    Rock missed a long layup on Utah State's next possession but Florida missed on two scoring opportunities as Brett Nelson missed on a drive and Miller's long jumper as the 35-second shot clock expired missed.

    Utah State called a timeout with 16 seconds left and the Aggies worked the ball to Rolle on the left side but Parker came out and blocked the shot.

    "We ran a play that took about the right amount of time to leave us a chance at a rebound," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "It looked like he was going to be wide open and the kid ran at him and the rest is speculation."

    Rolle, who finished with 16 points, is Utah State's only returning starter.

    "Maybe I'm expecting too much," Morrill said. "I think we should have won that game."

    Teddy Dupay added a free throw with 2.1 seconds left for the final margin.

    Weaks had 19 points to lead Florida, while Dupay had 11 and Miller 10. Harvey had six points and six rebounds.

    Dimitri Jorssen added 12 points for Utah State and Shawn Daniels had 10.

    Utah State opened the game with an 18-7 run but Florida was able to draw even with six minutes left and led 35-34 at halftime.

    The Aggies held a 51-45 lead with 8:43 to play but Florida was able to get back in as Utah State went scoreless for 5:20.

    "We were fighting, scrapping," Miller said. "We weren't making shots but we're too good and shoot too well to do that. This was a reality check but we didn't come in sleeping."

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