Florida vs. Texas A&M post-game notes

The No. 13 Florida Gators beat up on the No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies 84-64 on Saturday afternoon at the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and game MVP junior guard Kenny Boynton shared their thoughts on the victory.

BOYNTON’s BIG HOMECOMING

For the second-straight year, Boynton returned home to South Florida and picked up the MVP award in the OBBC. He accomplished the feat this time around by, as Donovan said, playing within himself and not losing sight of what was important in the game.

“With Kenny playing here before and playing like he did a year ago, the thing I just told him [before the game] was to let the game come to you. Just play and just take what the defense is giving us and do what we’re doing. There’s going to be enough opportunities for him,” he said. “There’s a mindset you have to have. I don’t think it’s ever easy when you come back [and play at home]. One thing I told Patric Young when he went back to play at Jacksonville: ‘All those people in the stands – they’re still going to love you regardless of what happens.’ When you’re back home, you want to do well you want the team to do well. There is so much you want to happen in a positive way. It says a lot about Kenny mentally coming in, staying focused on what the team needed to do. As a result, he had a great game because I think he really played the right way.”

Boynton dropped six threes on his way to a team-high 22 points and was efficient from beyond the arc, appearing to take controlled, balanced shots at every opportunity. Donovan explained that his mindset has changed a lot this year – all for the better.

“When he’s got his legs under him and he’s on balance, he can make deep shots and if guys are closing to him, he can get it off. I’m really happy for him this year. It’s been a lot of fun for me as a coach,” he said. “When he got here as a freshman, he was such a prolific scorer and he did it from behind the line because he could get it off. He went through a great learning process where he had a chance to play a lot as a freshman and then last year he added some different things. Right now, offensively, he’s becoming more and more complete. His turnover ratio is really good. He’s making pull-up mid-range jump shots. He’s making runners. With him doing that, it’s opening up other areas for him behind the line. The biggest thing that he’s doing right now is he’s finally realizing how long a game is.”

REMEDYING THE FREE THROW WOES

The Gators entered Saturday’s game ranked 318th nationally in free throw shooting, hitting just about 59 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe. Florida did much better this week, shooting 77 percent (23-of-30) from the line, playing to Donovan’s opinion that UF is not as bad as it may seem in that area.

“We’re a better free throw shooting team than the stats show,” he said. Kenny’s a good free throw shooter, as is Erving [Walker]. Brad [Beal] made his free throws; he was 6-for-6. I think Will [Yeguete] and Pat need to continue to get better. It was good to see that Casey [Prather] missed his first two; he came back and made two later. How good of a free throw shooting team are we percentage-wise? I know we’re better than 59 percent. They’ve worked at it, they’ve put the time in and we need to just keep doing that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on how Florida started the game: “I thought the first half was the best we’ve played all year.”

» Donovan on how the game went: “These guys offensively and defensively I thought played really well. I wish we would have handled the lead a little bit better coming out of the locker room. We shared it, we passed it, we moved it. We had inside-outside action. Kenny and Erving and Brad really did a great job, when they got in the lane they knew when to take it in the rim, when they got in the lane they knew when to throw it out to each other.”

» Donovan on having some early foul trouble: “Overall playing the game in the first half really without Patric against that kind of frontcourt, I thought our defense was disruptive enough with the press at half court that we were able to weather that battle with Will and Pat being in foul trouble.”

» Donovan on junior forward Erik Murphy returning to the starting lineup: “We do need Erik’s ability to shoot the ball, stretch the defense, size, rebounding. He can do some different things offensively. We needed to get him back in there. It was nothing that Will did wrong; actually Will did a great job in his absence.”

» Boynton on winning the MVP award: “It’s always great to come back home and have a great performance. This is our third year here. The first year we lost but the last years we won. I thought I played good overall, but I’m more happier with the win.”

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