Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/22/11
GAINESVILLE, Fla. No one knew at the time what wasabout to come, but once the job was finished, Gators freshman guard BradleyBeal's fingerprints were everywhere. Beal's prints were on a layup, a free throw, a dunk and a 3-pointer a wave ofpoints that helped UF pull away in Thursday night's 82-64 win over FloridaState. The Gators owned a slim 38-36 lead when Beal, the highly touted freshmanplaying in his 12th career game, was on the receiving end of a pass fromteammate Will Yeguete, who had just stolen the ball from FSU point guard LukeLoucks. Beal scored on a layup and was fouled. His free throw pushed the Gators' leadto five and the sequence ignited a 15-2 Florida run that essentially put thegame away as the Gators won their third in a row over the Seminoles. Beal scored eight of Florida's 15 points in the spurt his 3-pointer cappedthe run and gave the Gators a 53-38 lead further solidifying his role as anemerging threat that plays beyond his 18 years. Beal finished with a game-high 21 points and added six rebounds and threesteals. He finished the game much better than he started hitting a long 3-pointerwith a little more than a minute remaining for Florida's final points. "The first play of the game I felt dumb because I got my shot blocked by a7-footer," the 6-foot-3 Beal said. "I should have been smarter thanthat. Those guys are real big." Beal was bigger in the end, scoring 16 points in the second half and finishing 4of 8 from three-point range in the second-highest scoring game of his career.Beal has scored 22 points twice this season but not against a team that playsdefense like the Seminoles. FSU was limiting opponents to only 57.8 pointsentering the game. "People underestimate our defense," Beal said. "We beat them offour defense really, our pressing and trapping." Beal played a game-high 36 minutes and his outside shooting helped overcome thestruggles of guards Erving Walker (1 of 7) and Kenny Boynton (5 of 13). Beal'seffort also helped offset the absence of guard Mike Rosario. Rosario missed hissecond consecutive game due to back pain. "The fact they didn't have Rosario didn't seem to bother them atall," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I'm sure a lot of people aregoing to be scratching their heads trying to figure out how to stop them." If what Hamilton said is the case, then Beal will be part of the reason why. Hehas scored in double figures in 10 of 12 games and continues to adjust to thecollegiate game with the smoothness of a jazz singer on Beale Street. He is playing exactly the way Florida coach Billy Donovan envisioned. "I think Brad is fine. Brad always plays within himself," Donovansaid. "When he's open, he shoots it. He's got freedom to do that. He'sjust the kind of kid that never wants to come across as being selfish, and he'snot selfish. "I do think he is probably feeling more and more comfortable, but it's notso much that we're asking him to do more. He feels like he needs to more. Ithink he is understanding where shots need to come from." After his first shot of the game was blocked by Xavier Gibson on Thursday, Bealgot better and better with each minute ticking from the clock. Not all freshmenrespond that way in a big in-state rivalry game, but if we know anything aboutBeal, he is not your typical freshman. He continues to prove that by averaging more than 15 points and six rebounds agame, often appearing as a calm traffic cop in the middle of traffic buzzing byon I-75. "He does a great job at waiting his turn," Boynton said. "Hedoesn't force anything. I think he did a great job at taking good shots. Ithink it was his night." It turned out that way. That final shot was the perfect ending. "I'm a lot more comfortable," Beal said. "Throughout my stretchtonight I was kind of a little sluggish. I didn't hit as many shots as Iwanted to, but I just developed my confidence back. Coach and the players justkeep telling me to shoot and not worry about it."
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