The No. 13/14 Florida Gators earned another solid victory on Saturday by defeating the No. 16/18 Mississippi State Bulldogs 69-57 at home and winning their 17th consecutive game at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. With sophomore center Patric Young (ankle) again out of the starting lineup and Florida set for two games in three days next week, head coach Billy Donovan had plenty to talk about after the win.
YOUNG, BOYNTON ADJUSTING WELL TO TWEAKED ROLES
Though neither player has been asked to change their game, Young and junior guard Kenny Boynton have each had some adjusting to do since SEC play began.
Young, who has come off the bench the last four games mostly due to ankle tendinitis that has been bothering him, has had no problem whatsoever with the transition and said he will do it from now on if Donovan feels it is best. “Whatever Coach Donovan wants to do I’m 100 percent happy with it. If he wants me to come off the bench for the rest of the year, I would do it for the team,” he said after Saturday’s game.
Donovan discussed how the subject was broached to Young Friday evening and reiterated his player’s comments. “Pat’s fine. I went to Pat last night and I said to him, ‘You tell me where you’re at mentally. Do you want to start? Is that better for us and our team?’ He said, ‘No, I’m fine coming off the bench.’ I said, ‘We got a quick turnaround.’ He said, ‘I’m totally fine with coming off the bench [Saturday].’ He’s a great kid when it relates to that stuff. That’s not the end-all where he’s just not going to start,” he explained.
Young has played quite well since the switch, which came two games after Florida’s loss to Tennessee in their SEC opener. He’s shooting 71 percent from the field over the last five games and has played more than 24 minutes in each of the last three contests.
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]While Boynton is certainly not leaving the starting lineup, he has cooled off after starting the season on fire from three. He has shot 38.5 percent or worse from the field in four of six SEC games this year and went 1-for-6 on Saturday with a season-low two points. What he has been doing is dishing the ball and making the rest of his team better.
“I told Kenny after the game that I was really proud of him,” Donovan said. “Kenny maybe would be a guy who would’ve been upset a couple years ago. It was a real valuable lesson. Boynton and [Erving] Walker, the last
four or five games, have gotten  assists and  turnovers. It’s a pretty impressive stat for those two guys.”
His teammate, freshman Bradley Beal, is equally impressed. “Kenny played great no matter how many points he had,” he said about his performance. “He did a great defensive job on [Dee] Bost. That was his main goal coming into the game, trying to defend him and trying to stop him the best he can. He really shut him down.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on the team’s offensive output: “Offensively, although we made 11 threes in the game and Murphy had a lot to do with that, I thought we had some decent looks and we didn’t shoot the ball great.”
» Donovan on MSU C Renardo Sidney: “You can catch the ball on him. He’s not going to fight and try to take away post position. But what happens is, when you put the ball on the floor to go and make a move, he doesn’t move.”
» Donovan on MSU G Bost: “We guarded him in pick-and-roll action three different ways. We trapped him just to get the ball out of his hands … and make him throw the ball to somebody else. When he’s coming off a pick-and-roll, there’s so many options for him because he can score and he can pass.”
» Donovan on his team taking five charges on Saturday: “If you’re not a shot-blocking team, and we’re not, you have to put your body in play and take charges.”
» Beal on Young’s impact: “Whenever Pat is in the game, he just brings energy. Whenever he checks in the game, the crowd is always screaming and there’s always excitement.”
» Walker on the team’s SEC experience: “We work real hard in practice. Coach puts us in every situation possible. We know games versus these good teams are not going to be easy. You just got to be able to defend, and when you can defend you’ll be in any game.”
» Young on getting back on SportsCenter’s Top Plays: “I’ve had like 12 dunks the last two games. They’ve got to do something.”[/EXPAND]