Walker, Boynton shoot lights out as UF tops UAB

Half of the lights going out in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center was an obvious coincidence, but the stellar shooting of senior point guard Erving Walker and junior guard Kenny Boynton led the No. 13/14 Florida Gators (12-3) to a 79-61 victory over the UAB Blazers (5-8) Tuesday evening in Gainesville, FL.

Walker and Boynton each earned their stripes from beyond the arc. The former hit 7-of-9 shots from downtown for a game-high 23 points, while the latter was 6-of-10 from three for 20 points. Walker’s seven treys were a career-high for most in a game, while Boynton’s six tied his own career-high.

UAB took it to Florida early, using a 12-3 run to jump ahead one point more than midway through the first half. However, Walker soon answered with a three to put the Gators ahead 18-16, and Boynton hit a trey with seven seconds left to cap a 10-2 run that gave UF a 37-26 lead at the break.

Florida opened up the second half in a similar fashion, taking a 15-point lead thanks to a quick 6-0 run; the Gators then used a 12-3 scoring stretch that included three treys by Boynton to jump ahead of the Blazers 55-34 with 12:17 left in the game.

Minutes later, half of the lights at the top of the dome went out as did one of the video boards. The coaches met with the referees at midcourt and both sides agreed to continue playing under less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

UF junior forward Erik Murphy made the block of the night when action resumed and Walker quickly hit a three from the corner, but UAB was undeterred, scoring eight-straight points to cut their deficit to 12 with 7:43 to go in the contest.

The Blazers reduced the Gators’ advantage to single digits with just over six minutes remaining, but Boynton and Walker each hit their sixth trey of the game in consecutive fashion to once again put Florida ahead 15 points and lead UF toward the victory.

The Gators had 21 assists on 31 baskets and shot 50.8 percent from the floor as well as 55.6 percent from downtown. Florida did not take a single foul shot in the first half and was just 2-for-5 in the second half. UAB outrebounded UF 36-34 on the evening with 14 offensive boards but shot just 36.4 percent from the field and was 5-of-17 from three.

Walker added six dimes to his stat line, which moved him into third in school history for assists (456), passing Nick Calathes. His nine tries from downtown brought him into a tie with Lee Humphrey for third all-time in three-pointers attempted, while Walker’s seven makes inched him closer to third all-time in that category (Anthony Roberson, 267).

Boynton also had five assists, and his six threes moved him a game closer to No. 2 on Florida’s all-time list for consecutive games with a trey (Brett Nelson, 33).

Sophomore center Patric Young posted 15 points and seven rebounds (four offensive) for the Gators, and sophomore F Will Yeguete registered a team-high 11 boards.

Freshman G Bradley Beal had six assists but posted his worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 2-of-15 baskets while also not grabbing a single rebound.

Beal will have plenty of time to work the kinks out of his shot as UF does not take the court again until Saturday when they begin SEC play on the road at Tennessee. The game will air live at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

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