No. 8 Florida cruises by Southeastern

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mike Rosario scored a season-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists, and No. 8 Florida routed Southeastern Louisiana 82-43 on Wednesday night.

The Gators (8-1) bounced back from a loss at No. 4 Arizona four days earlier, winning their only home game over a 40-day span.

Rosario made 8 of 13 shots, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range, and enjoyed his best game since transferring to Florida from Rutgers after the 2009-10 season. It came on the heels of a 16-point night against the Wildcats.

It’s a big swing for a senior guard coach Billy Donovan criticized earlier in the season. Donovan called Rosario soft before the season, and then ripped him for turnovers and a lack of defensive effort last month.

Rosario has responded well.

He was no match for the Lions (1-8), who have lost five straight.

Rosario hit consecutive 3-pointers late in the first half, turning an eight-point game into a double-digit lead. He followed with two more baskets, giving him 10 consecutive points.

Maybe his most impressive play came in the closing minute of the first half, when he grabbed a rebound and made an athletic move toward the basket.

He could have flirted with a triple-double, but Donovan played reserves for the final 5 minutes of the lopsided game.

Pat Young and Michael Frazier II were the only other Florida players in double figures. Young had 10 points and five rebounds; Frazier had 12 and six.

Scottie Wilbekin added nine points, six rebounds and four assists for Florida. Casey Prather and Will Yeguete chipped in eight points each. Leading scorer Kenny Boynton had seven points while struggling for the third consecutive game. He was 1-of-7 shooting, making him 7 of 29 in the last three games. He has hit just 3 of his last 22 shots from behind the arc.

Brandon Fortenberry led Southeastern Louisiana with 15 points.

The Gators shot 57 percent in the first half and led 43-26. Things really got ugly after the break.

The Lions went 7 minutes without a point in the second half, falling behind 50-26 before Fortenberry’s driving layup.

About the only thing Southeastern Louisiana did well was handle Florida’s press. The Lions had two turnovers at halftime and 13 for the game. They shot 29 percent for the game and made just 3 of 21 from behind the arc.

The Gators were much more efficient.

They shot 49 percent from the field, including 10 of 32 from downtown. Florida connected on 16 of 18 free throws and dominated the paint, scoring 30 points in the land and outrebounding Southeastern Louisiana 40-30.

SE MISSOURI 94, NEW ORLEANS 71: In Cape Girardeau, Mo., Southeast Missouri State connected on five of their first six 3-point attempts in the second half to pull away from New Orleans at the Show Me Center.

Leading by three points coming out of the halftime break, SEMO (7-6) guard Corey Wilford made three 3-pointers in the first four minutes during a spurt in which the Redhawks built the game’s first significant advantage.

SEMO shot 10 of 25 from beyond the arc in the game, which included five 3-pointers by Wilford, who notched a game-high with 18 points. Three others reached double figures with Redhawks’ guard Lucas Nutt dishing out 10 assists for the hosts.

UNO (3-7) battled SEMO to a 34-34 rebouding tie.

Five different players had at least four rebounds for UNO, including Rarlensee Nelson, who grabbed six rebounds to establish a career-high for a second straight game. Kevin Hill added five rebounds.

Privateer forward Eddie Denard established a career-high with 11 points in the contest. Cory Dixon and Corey Blake had 13 and 12 points, respectively.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair as the teams swapped leads on 11 occasions with five ties.

UNO would be in the driver’s seat early, scoring the first four points and 6 of 8. Following a three-point play by Blake, the Privateers took a 13-7 lead with 14:37 remaining in the opening half. The advantage would be the guests’ largest of the half.

The Redhawks responded, embarking on an 11-1 run to swing the momentum in their favor, later grabbing a six-point edge of their own with 8:32 left before the break.

The teams would trade leads several more times with SEMO scoring the final four points of the half to take a 42-39 advantage into the half.

SEMO’s run continued in the second half as they scored the first five points. Three-pointers on consecutive possessions by Wilford extended the Redhawks’ advantage to 53-43 with 17:10 left in the contest.

UNO cut the deficit back to single digits by producing a 5-0 run before SEMO rolled off seven straight points of their own to put their lead back in double-digits, where it would remain for the rest of the contest.

The Redhawks’ largest advantage of the game was the final result as the hosts closed out the game with a three-point play with six seconds remaining.

The Privateers will head to Las Vegas this weekend for the MGM Grand Arena Holiday Classic hosted by the Pac-12 Conference. A two-day, four-game event will include a showdown between UNO and Boise State on Sunday at 3 p.m. CT.

NOTES

Rarlensee Nelson had six assists without a single turnover. One of the nation’s leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, Nelson last had no turnovers with a 10-assist, 0-turnover performance at Duquesne on Dec. 8.

The UNO bench outscored their Redhawk counterparts by a 34-28 score, improving to 8-1-1 on the season. The Privateer reserves were held to a season-low seven points against SIU on Monday, their first setback. In the first half alone, UNO’s bench scored 19 points.

Prior to Wednesday’s contest, the last time the Privateers either outrebounded or tied an opponent on the boards was a 63-35 advantage on the glass on Nov. 20 against Blue Mountain College.