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February 5, 2002

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Brett Nelson shot 4-for-8 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points and seven assists, leading No. 8 Florida to a 72-63 victory over South Carolina on Tuesday night.

The Gators (17-4, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) survived several second-half rallies by South Carolina to win their second straight game.

Mike Bonner added 19 points for Florida.

Chuck Eidson and Jamel Bradley each scored 14 points for South Carolina (13-9, 3-6). Marius Petravicius had 11 points and seven rebounds.

The Gamecocks’ last comeback try came with the Carolina Coliseum crowd roaring and Florida clinging to a five-point lead, 53-48, with 7:30 left.

Bonner made two foul shots. Then, after Eidson had his 3-point attempt rattle in and out, Nelson countered with a 3 for Florida.

Two possessions later, Orien Greene converted a turnover into a layup, and David Lee made two free throws to give the Gators a 62-48 lead.

South Carolina closed within nine at 62-53 with 3:30 remaining. Udonis Haslem, who sat six minutes with four fouls, returned to the lineup and made a layup to extend the Gators’ lead to 11.

South Carolina, which trailed 39-27 at the half, opened the third quarter with an 11-5 run. Florida responded with a layup by Haslem and a short jumper and free throw by Lee, pushing its lead to 49-38.

Florida missed two 3-pointers, and South Carolina moved within five points after a 3-pointer by Eidson and a three-point play by Petravicius with 10 minute left.

Florida shot 53.2 percent (25-for-47), while South Carolina shot 34.4 percent (21-for-61).

South Carolina forced four Gator turnovers with its trapping and pressing defense and moved out to a 9-1 lead.

After a timeout, Florida went on a 15-5 run over the next 3:30 and assumed a 16-14 lead. The Gators stepped up their defense and forced four turnovers in the run.