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Feb 25, 2003

Box Score

AP Sports Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Matt Bonner scored 18 points and No. 4 Florida shot 78 percent in the second half Tuesday night in a 96-63 victory over South Carolina that extended the Gators’ home winning streak to a school-record 19 games.

In a dazzling display of unselfish play and 3-point shooting, Florida (23-4, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) repeatedly set each other up for uncontested jumpers and layups by making the extra pass. They pulled away in the closing minutes of the opening half, then broke it open by making 21 of 27 shots the rest of the way.

David Lee had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting and the backcourt of Justin Hamilton and Anthony Roberson shot 8-for-12 and had 22 points for Florida, which scored 61 points in the second half.

Florida surpassed its win total for last season and equaled the school mark for most victories during the regular season set in 1993-94 and matched three years ago.

South Carolina (11-13, 4-9) lost its second in a row following a four-game winning streak. The Gamecocks lost to Florida by two points at home on Jan. 28, but have only won once in 11 games away from the Carolina Center.

Hamilton and Brett Nelson hit 3-pointers in a 10-2 spurt that enabled Florida to open a 10-point lead late in the first half. It was 35-23 at halftime, and the Gators built the lead to 52-31 with just over 15 minutes to go.

Rolando Howell led South Carolina with 16 points and six rebounds. Kerbell Brown and Tony Kitchings each had 22 points in South Carolina’s loss to Florida last month, but neither got into a rhythm Tuesday night.

Brown scored 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting, while Kitchings finished with four points and five rebounds.

Florida, coming off a three-point overtime victory against Vanderbilt, missed its first five shots in a four-minute drought to start the game only to finish 12-of-18 from 3-point range and shoot 64 percent overall (34-for-53).

The 33-point loss was the largest of the season for South Carolina, which previously lost by 18 to Kentucky. Florida’s 61 second-half points were the school’s second-most ever against a SEC opponent.