In the first half, DePaul couldn't play any better. In the second, the Blue Demons just had to hang on when No. 10 Florida took control of the game in Chicago.
"We knew they'd make some pushes, but we didn't think they'd come all the way back," DePaul's Quentin Richardson said after the Blue Demons blew a 21-point second-half lead before beating the Gators 71-69 last night.
"Our best offense is often our defensive pressure. We wore them down, but they did a good job of maintaining the lead," said Florida's Mike Miller, whose last-second errant pass ended the Gators' remarkable second-half comeback.
Bobby Simmons scored DePaul's final five points after Florida--behind its press and fast-break--had taken its only lead at 67-66 on Brett Nelson's two free throws with 2:55 left. The foul shots capped a 33-11 run by the Gators.
"We haven't had this kind of lead against an outstanding team," said DePaul Coach Pat Kennedy, whose team has been knocked out of the Top 25 by three losses in its previous four games.
"We appeared a little tired."
Richardson scored 17 points for DePaul, but had only four in the second half. Simmons finished with 15, none bigger this season than his final five.
The loss kept Florida from setting a school record for single-season non-conference wins. The Gators finished 11-2 in out-of-league play.
VANDERBILT 61, SOUTH CAROLINA 60: Dan Langhi scored 21 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 0.3 seconds left, to lift the No. 20 Commodores and provide another close loss for host South Carolina.
Vanderbilt (13-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) trailed most of the game and were down a point in the closing seconds. But Langhi took an inbounds pass and was fouled as he went up for a shot.
Langhi, an 88.3 percent foul shooter and league's top scorer at 22 points a game, made both and yelled at the top of his lungs as he went back on defense.
Fans at Carolina Coliseum threw towels, cups and debris from everywhere as both teams and the referees left the floor.
It was another near victory over a ranked team for the Gamecocks. They have come within three points of winning against Michigan State and Syracuse and led Auburn in the final minute last week before falling 65-61.
ARIZONA 82, ARIZONA ST. 55: Fifth-ranked Arizona, led by freshmen guards Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner, came just one point short of the most one-sided road victory ever for the Wildcats against their arch rivals.
Arenas scored a career-high 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting and Gardner added 16 as the Wildcats (17-3, 6-1 Pac-10) broke the game open in the final six minutes of the first half, then turned it into a a full-fledged blowout in the second.
KENTUCKY 75, GEORGIA 69: In Athens, Ga., Tayshaun Prince scored six of his 14 points down the stretch in the Wildcats' 13th straight over the Bulldogs.
No. 16 Kentucky (14-5, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) won its fourth straight overall and 10th in 11 games. Georgia (9-10, 2-5) last beat the Wildcats on Jan. 8, 1994, a 94-90 overtime victory.
OKLAHOMA ST. 71, KANSAS ST. 56: Desmond Mason had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the No. 15 Cowboys moved into a four-way tie for first place in the Big 12.
Mason had four three-pointers as the Cowboys (15-2, 4-1) won their fourth straight over host Kansas State, which had its losing streak extended to five games, its longest since 1997.