The No. 9/10 Florida Gators fell on the road to the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange 72-68 Friday evening at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY as part of the 2011 Big East-SEC Challenge. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and the players provided their thoughts on the team’s second loss to a top-five ranked opponent this year.
TURNOVERS, POOR REBOUNDING PROVIDING EXTRA CHANCES
Florida worked hard on the defensive end of the floor Friday night, but the Gators’ 20 turnovers gave the Orange a number of additional opportunities to score that wound up being one of the main differences in the game. Syracuse took seven more shots and 10 more free throw attempts on the evening than Florida, which made up for the fact that SU shot worse both from the field and beyond the arc.
After the game, UF’s players took the blame for these miscues, noting that they resulted from carelessness rather than their opponent’s effort.
“That’s a good defense but those turnovers are our turnovers. They’re on us,” junior guard Kenny Boynton admitted.
The Orange were also the first team to outrebound the Gators this season, grabbing seven more boards and five additional rebounds off the offensive glass. Not only did Syracuse have a size advantage, they worked harder than Florida to this end and took a few directly out of their opponent’s hands.
“They did a good job of getting rebounds and getting out on their break,” senior point guard Erving Walker said. “That’s not an easy zone to play against, but we still had some good looks at the basket and actually shot a good percentage in the second half. We just turned the ball over up too much and gave up too many easy baskets.”
MISSING IN ACTION
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Despite playing six minutes in the first half, redshirt junior G Mike Rosario did not return to the court in the latter portion of the game and was benched by Donovan for the entire second half. Rosario took two three-pointers in his six minutes on the court (airballing one), hit two free throws, committed a foul and turned the ball over once.
“The last couple days, I think emotionally, he just hasn’t been there,” Donovan said after the game about Rosario’s limited playing time. “I tried to use him a little bit and he just did not seem himself.
“It was more my decision not to play him. I actually felt like we needed defense because I knew we were going to have a hard time scoring with Patric [Young] off the floor.”
The team’s sophomore starting center, Young picked up two early fouls and only played 25 minutes of the game with the majority of that time coming in the second half. His absence limited the Gators offensively in the early portion of the game and hurt Florida’s ability to get penetration and force Syracuse’s zone to defend honestly.
Also absent from the game was junior forward Erik Murphy (knee), whose 6’10” frame and zone-stretching jump shot would have been a welcome addition. At any given point in the contest, UF was playing without two of its six best players (Murphy and Young in the first half, Murphy and Rosario in the second half).
Post-game quotes courtesy of UF contributing writer Chris Harry.[/EXPAND]