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Hayes leads No. 25 Florida to rout of Oklahoma

Hayes leads No. 25 Florida to rout of Oklahoma
Published On: Sat, Jan 28
Mar 19, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Eastern Washington Eagles forward Venky Jois (55) passes the basketball against Georgetown Hoyas center Bradley Hayes (42) during the first half in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

NORMAN, Okla. -- Even in building a solid start to its season, Florida has had plenty of issues.

The No. 25 Gators have struggled to succeed on the defensive boards and suffered from lapses early in second halves that cost them wins.

Those two struggles were answered emphatically in a week that ended with Saturday's 84-52 blowout win over Oklahoma at Lloyd Noble Center.

Gators coach Mike White beamed looking at the stat sheet after the game.

"I can't think of another game this year where I felt this good about us postgame, the way we rebounded the ball," White said, addressing specifically the 50-39 rebounding edge. "We went after them with reckless abandon, with two hands, giving our bodies up, drew some fouls in some other rebounding situations."

Of those 50 rebounds, 37 came on the defensive end.

"Shows that the guys have embraced that deficiency, spent a lot of time focused on it, working on it," White said.

For Oklahoma, it was the worst home loss since 1922.

"Not much good there," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "Florida is good. Give them a lot of credit for this. We didn't move the ball very well. I thought it hung up a lot. We didn't finish opportunities when we had them. Again, we have to get a lot better activity."

Florida built a 15-point lead at halftime, thanks to an 18-4 stretch over the last six minutes before half.

Nine of those points came from Kevarrius Hayes, who finished with a career-high 20 points, as the Gators (16-5) took advantage of Oklahoma's foul trouble inside.

"Just doing my job," Hayes, who also had nine rebounds, said. "As I set screens and roll, guards they just find me."

Florida also got 15 from Canyon Barry, who came off the bench after missing Wednesday's win over LSU with a sprained ankle.

"Just trying not to do anything out of rhythm or out of character," Barry said.

Florida won its two games during the week by a combined 67 points, beating LSU 106-71 in its previous game.

Now, the Gators return home where they've struggled recently, losing to Vanderbilt in their last game and, White said, not playing with the same defensive intensity.

"I'm nervous as heck to get on the plane flying back to Gainesville in terms of how we'll play," White said. "For whatever reason, our defensive numbers, our defensive attention to detail, focus, intensity level has not been matched compared to how we've defended or rebounded on the road.

"It's really odd. I don't know whether it's distractions, I don't know whether it's being overly comfortable just feeling like it's just going to happen for us because we're at home but we are going to continue to address it as much as anything."

While the win was the third consecutive for Florida, it was Oklahoma?s third consecutive loss after its upset over No. 7 West Virginia on Jan. 18.

The Sooners shot just 27.7 percent, including 1 of 16 from behind the 3-point line.

"When you're not making shots, that affects everything else," Kruger said. "You're making shots, you're going to be a little more active defensively. You're going to be a little more active on the boards. Everything is working a little better.

"It started with not making shots but we've got to be able to play through that a little better too."

The Sooners were also struggling with the loss of leading scorer Jordan Woodard.

Woodard played 14 minutes but came out of the game due to illness early in the second half.

Kruger said Woodard informed coaches that he was ill in pregame warmups but wanted to try to play.

Woodard finished scoreless, missing all seven of his shots.

It was the first time in his career that he has not registered either a point or an assist in a game.

Woodard is 1 of 13 from the floor in his last two games.

NOTES: Longtime broadcaster Brent Musberger was honored at halftime by Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. Musberger was calling his next-to-last game and his final game with analyst Dick Vitale. ... Oklahoma backup PG Darrion Strong-Moore did not play due to a shoulder injury he suffered in OU's previous game. Sophomore F Dante Buford also missed the game. ... Florida is 3-1 all-time in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. ? The loss was Oklahoma's first in the history of the event. ... Oklahoma hosts Oklahoma State on Monday. Florida hosts Missouri on Thursday.

Read the complete news article here...

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