Gators shine in 57-44 win over No. 6 Wildcats

By Adam Silverstein
December 18, 2010

Saturday was a day of redemption for the No. 24 Florida Gators. Down 20-8 to the No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats late in the first half, head coach Billy Donovan’s team came back from their deficit with solid defense and efficient shooting to prevail 57-44 at the 2010 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL.

Florida (8-2), which improved to 8-2 all-time in the event, held Kansas State (9-2) to 27.3 percent team shooting and outscored them 37-21 in the second half for their most impressive victory of the season.

Things started off slow for both teams but especially for the Gators, who did not score until junior point guard Erving Walker drained a jumper eight minutes into the game. The Wildcats jumped ahead 20-8 on a three-pointer by guard Jacob Pullen with 9:05 remaining in the first half but went on a significant drought from that point forward.

Down 12 after Pullen’s trey, Florida went on a 12-3 run to end the half and added an 8-0 run coming out of the locker rooms to take a 28-23 lead. The Wildcats would reduce their deficit to three, but the Gators kept inching further and further ahead eventually going up a game-high 18 on two free throws by Walker with 2:38 left in the game.

Sophomore G Kenny Boynton, who played the first game of his college career near his hometown in Broward County, was named the contest’s Most Valuable Player after posting a team-high 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting (2-for-4 from downtown). He rebounded significantly from his last two games, in which he combined to go 3-of-21 from the field and 1-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Boynton started 0-2 and also missed two consecutive free throws.

Walker had his most impressive game of the season with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting while dishing three assists and only turning the ball over once. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin was his consistent self with seven rebounds to go along with 10 points.

Playing major minutes off the bench were freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin, freshman C Patric Young and sophomore forward Erik Murphy Young grabbed two big rebounds and swatted the ball away twice, while Murphy scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting while notching four boards.

Florida’s senior Fs, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus had juxtaposed performances. Parsons grabbed four rebounds, blocked three shots and scored seven points in 31 minutes, while Tyus played only 19 minutes and made one basket.

Pullen was Kansas State’s only effective scorer, but even he went 6-of-17 (1-for-17 from three) for a game-high 19 points. No other Wildcats player posted double-digit points and only two others (non-starters) made more than one basket.

UF out-shot KSU 53.5-27.3 percent and blocked five more shots but turned the ball over nine more times (17-8) and was out-rebounded 26-28.

Kansas State’s point total was their lowest in five seasons under head coach Frank Martin, and Florida played the best defense it has all season, holding a ranked opponent to under 50 points for the first time since 1968.

The Gators return to Gainesville, FL, to face Jacksonville on Monday at 1 p.m. The game will air live on Sun Sports (check your local listings).

Photo Credit: Jeffrey M. Boan/Associated Press

8 Comments

  1. Christy says:

    I was at the game- definitely got off to a rough start, but Billy D. really made some adjustments at halftime and they came out and really believed in themselves and weren’t afraid to try to get inside the paint and score. Great game!!

  2. Gatorbuc15 says:

    What a great win and a humongous big step for this team! This win may very propel us through the rest of the season!
    I’m ecstatic about this victory!

  3. SC Gator says:

    That’s a huge win for this team, especially given that they did it by playing lights out on defense.

  4. gatorJacque says:

    What an impressive win for the Gators! So very proud. Hopefully we are now on the way back to being No. 1 in the conference with our team. Go Gators!

  5. Gatorgrad79 says:

    Wish I could get a recording of that half-time speech! This team is a diamond in the rough…

  6. ncgator says:

    I love all the positive responses, but this team is no better than last year. The only reason they won is because K. State played horrible. They had 12 turnovers and 8-points in the first 13 minutes. 20 turnovers by the half. Tyus, Macklin and Parsons dis nothing the entire first half. That’s ridiculous. Since winning back-to-back championships Donovan’s recruiting has been weak at best. This team is once-again destined for the NIT…this year they won’t get a gift invitation to the big dance like they did last year.

  7. Wingtee says:

    Nc gator , I amnot saying we will win the east becase Kentucky and tenn have more talent however winning at fsu an beatin k state all we need to do is win 10 conference games and we are in the dance . I think we can do that

  8. ncgator says:

    Wingtee, not trying to get in a negative debate about this team, I guess I’m just disappointed in the level of talent we’ve recruited since winning back-to-back championships. If you watch them game in and game out their just not very good. The guards are fine but Tyus, Macklin and Parsons put in half-ass efforts most of the time. If you can get a a productive half out of any of them you’re lucky. Also, there’s no leadership or passion in any of the juniors or seniors. You have to have 1 Joakim Noah on a team! I don’t see it in this group. Additionally, thier fundamentals are just terrible. They have way to many turnovers.
    So, poor fundamentals and crappy recruiting makes you take a hard look at what the coaches are doing. I know we lost everybody after the last championship but it’s hard to believe we didn’t have kids lined-up to play at a nationally compettive level. We had momentum and we simply lost it. Keep in mind it’s a helluva lot harder to reload a football team then a basketball team simply because of the numbers involved. Yet, every year the gators football recruiting classes are some of the best in the country.

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