11/17: Florida vs. North Florida post-game

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators returned home after being defeated by Ohio State and upended the North Florida Ospreys 91-55 Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some Florida players discussed the contest they just played.

CHARITY STRIPE NOT BEING VERY CHARITABLE

The Gators have shot well as a team through the first three games of the 2011-12 season, but the squad has noticeably continued to struggle from the free throw line. Florida is shooting 56.9 percent from the charity stripe this year, which is about 20 percent lower than the level the team should be at, according to Donovan.

“It irritates me because we’ve got a good shooting team. I see it more as a mechanical problem right now. I don’t think our guys are using their legs like they need to,” he said. “A lot of our free throws are short. They got to dip into their legs a little bit more. We’re in the mid-50s for the year and that should not be the case. We’ve spent some time shooting them, but we’ve got to do a better job. There has to be more focus and discipline there.”

Donovan said he tries to create pressure situations in practice but no matter how well the Gators shoot in the gym, he knows it does not always translate equally to the court.

“They start missing them and then they’re all thinking about it right now. We’ve got to get enough reps in right now where they get more comfortable there,” he said.

YOUNG NEEDS TO GET INVOLVED

Unlike two days prior, Florida really concentrated on moving the ball and making the extra pass against North Florida. Part of that concentration was supposed to be ensuring that sophomore center Patric Young got more touches around the basket.

“We felt like in the Ohio State game, in the first half, Pat didn’t get touches. In the second half we felt like when he got the ball good things happened. Overall we just wanted to work on moving the ball and team chemistry,” junior guard Kenny Boynton said.

As it turned out, Young scored a season-low seven points and took just seven shots. Donovan was obviously displeased with his big man getting so few looks.

“We got to find ways, when we’re spaced out like that and the defense has to come out, we got a pretty big, physical guy isolated in the post one-on-one. We got to find ways to incorporate him more into what we’re doing,” he said.

BOYNTON NO LONGER RELYING ON THE THREE

A scoring machine coming out of high school, Boynton spent most of his first two years with Florida standing beyond the arc hoping to get the ball so he could jack up three-pointers. Donovan has been trying to get Boynton to work on his penetration for a while now and may have finally seen it come full circle on Thursday.

”I’m really pleased with him. He’s really made some great steps, and I’ve seen improvement every year since he’s been here,” Donovan said of Boynton. “He came in as a prolific scorer and that’s what he knew. Last year he had a better understanding of shot selection and extra passing. Right now he’s really done a nice job of assist-to-turnover ratio, driving it and not just relying on a three, getting in the lane, mid-range jumpers. He’s starting to add some different things to his game.

“He’s just got to understand that there’s going to be a night where he doesn’t shoot typically well, but his game has evolved as such that he can still have a great impact on it because he’s just not relying so much on the three. That’s been the biggest thing – he’s driven, pulled up, made extra passes and done a lot of different things. And clearly he’s one of our better perimeter defenders.”

Boynton agreed with Donovan’s assessment after the game Thursday. Just 2-of-8 from downtown, Boynton began taking it to the hole and finished 7-of-14 from the field for a game-high 20 points.

“I felt like I was relying on my outside shot a lot. It was falling [in the first two games], but I definitely want to work on everything,” he said. “It was the reverse tonight. My outside shot wasn’t falling, so I started going to the hole.”

PLAYER EVALUATIONS

Senior point guard Erving Walker (and his recent struggles): “The thing that bothered me with Walker at Ohio State and a little bit [against North Florida] is I think you can get into a little bit of senioritis where you’re a senior and you kind of want everything to go well and you want it to be a real good year. You’ve paid your dues and you’ve worked hard and then when it’s not going well there’s almost this, ‘Why me.’ Erving Walker, his whole entire life, has been a fighter. I don’t think that because he’s a senior he can stop fighting. I really challenged him in the second half in the locker room, and I thought in the second half he competed and went back to having that fight in him. We need him to have that fight because it impacts the rest of our team.”

Freshman G Brad Beal (and his basketball IQ): “NBA players are not only the most talented and gifted, they’re the smartest. Sometimes that gets lost when you see some of these guys play and they’ve played so many games. The basketball intellect is really high. The ones up at that level, the really good ones have it. Brad’s got that. He understands it; he gets it. I’m actually trying to extract more out of him verbally because I think he can lead. He knows he’s a competitor. He can shift it into a different gear. But he also doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes or come across as selfish. That’s a good thing, too; it’s a good quality for him to have.

“[Al] Horford had it. [Udonis] Haslem had it. Corey Brewer had it. Mike Miller had it. There’s certain guys that learn as the game evolves. Erving Walker had it as a freshman. There’s certain guys that come into a game as a freshman, and it doesn’t look like they’re a freshman. They can play inside the flow of the game because they understand little things or can think ahead. Certain guys got to go thorough experiences to go through it to figure out what not to do. Do they all have it? No. Is it rare? It’s probably somewhat rare, but the really good players eventually get that.”

Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (and his lack of defense): “He has proven that he can score. Again he comes out and gets 15 points in 20 minutes. The thing he’s losing sight of sometimes [is] that he needs to get better at is that he’s not defending like he needs to defend. He was in the wrong spots in the press. It’s all a little bit different for him and moving faster. He’s probably coming from a situation at Rutgers where everything was built around him and getting him shots. Now he’s incorporating himself where there’s a lot of different pieces. ‘How do I now get involved?’ The biggest thing he needs to do is be much more of a consistent defender. He’s capable, he just needs to be committed to it.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan said sophomore forward Will Yeguete saw the doctor Thursday after beginning to experience some post-concussion symptoms. He was set to take tests on Friday and will hopefully be back Saturday if everything checks out OK. “In the Ohio State game, he felt comfortable to go back in there and he went back in there. The next day he was complaining of some headaches and didn’t feel great. It was probably some concussion-like symptoms,” Donovan said.

» Rosario on the team’s quick turnaround: “It was tough. We went out there and lost to a good team. A lot of praise to those guys; those guys did a great job out there at Ohio State. We told ourselves we had to come back, do a one day turnover and be ready to go.”

» Beal on some of his miscues: “I’m a freshman so I still have a long way to go. I’m going to make mistakes but at the same time I know that I can learn from them and just try to improve them down the road.”

» Beal on his turnovers: “It’s just being careless, thinking too much instead of just playing basketball.”

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Gators place No. 1, No. 2 on ESPN’s Top Plays

Each night ESPN compiles a Top 10 plays of the day and airs the segment on SportsCenter. Thursday evening, a pair of plays made by Florida Gators held the top two spots. The No. 2 play featured is an alley-oop from senior point guard Erving Walker to sophomore center Patric Young in the Florida-North Florida basketball game. The No. 1 play, of course, was Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s 20-yard, game-winning touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

Tebow’s touchdown was also SportsCenter‘s Highlight of the Night:

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Gators ground Ospreys in 91-55 blowout

The game may not have started at the pace that No. 7/8 Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan may have preferred, but his team pulled away early in the second half and cruised to an easy victory in a Global Sports Shootout game.

Florida (2-1) routed the North Florida Ospreys (1-2) 91-55 Thursday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL behind a 20-point performance on 7-of-14 shooting by junior guard Kenny Boynton.

Five Gators scored in double figures, including freshman G Brad Beal, who registered his first career double-double with 12 points (5-for-10) and 10 rebounds.

UF began and ended the first half moving a bit on the slow side. In between, the Gators used a pair of 8-0 runs as well as a 10-2 run to take a 28-11 lead. Florida stretched their advantage out to 20 before missing their final four shots of the half and heading to the back locker room up 39-22.

The Gators opened the second half with an impressive and game-changing 21-6 run that included a pair of threes by senior point guard Erving Walker, another from junior forward Erik Murphy, a dunk by Boynton and a crowd-pleasing alley-oop from Walker to sophomore center Patric Young.

Florida continued to put the pressure on from there, jumping ahead 37 points with about nine minutes to play and hanging on for the impressive victory.

Outrebounding their opponent in all three games so far this season, the Gators had a 36-31 advantage Thursday night. Florida turned the ball over 10 times (compared to 16 at Ohio State) but registered 11 steals and dished 18 assists.

UF shot 49.2 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from downtown but only hit 16-of-29 attempts (55.2 percent) from the charity stripe. The Gators were an unimpressive 5-for-13 from the line at the end of the first half but went 11-for-16 to end the game.

North Florida G Parker Smith scored a team-high 17 points and hit all seven of his tries from the charity stripe. As a team, the Ospreys made 13-of-16 shots from the line.

Walker scored 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-for-7 from beyond the arc) with six boards, four dimes and a team-high three turnovers. Boynton added four rebounds and five assists to his 20 points and also hit all four of his free throws.

Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario chimed in with 15 points while hitting 4-of-6 attempts from three, Murphy was 5-for-8 for 13 points and four boards, and Young finished with just seven points and four rebounds.

Florida will play its fourth and final GSS game in a neutral-site game against Wright State on Monday in Tampa, FL. The contest will air live at 8 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida (check your local listings).

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11/16: Donovan talks UNF, evaluates players

With No. 7/8 Florida Gators basketball set to take on the North Florida Ospreys Thursday evening in Gainesville, FL, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Wednesday to discuss what preparations have been made for his team’s second home game of the season.

QUICK TURNAROUND

Rather than have a full day to prepare for North Florida, Florida was forced into a rough situation when the team was unable to takeoff and had to stay overnight in Columbus, OH following its loss to Ohio State. Donovan, which called UNF “a physical, hard-playing, competitive team” on Wednesday, called Thursday’s clash a “real high-level character game” for the Gators, one that will determine both how they bounce back from a loss and short preparation time.

“When you’re competing, you’re dealing with a win and feeling really good about yourself, or you’re dealing with a loss and somewhat licking your wounds and woe is me,” he said. “I think this is an opportunity to see what kind of resolve we have and what our character and our makeup is.”

Donovan said he hopes Florida took their loss to OSU tough because that is one factor that can determine the mental makeup of a team.

“I find that the guys that take losses the hardest are more often than not your better teams because there is that level of care,” he said. “We have a competitive group. They care and they were hurt. How much we feel sorry for ourselves today and how much we get back to work and try to improve we’ll see here this afternoon.”

OHIO STATE LOSS EXPOSED FLORIDA

Heading into Tuesday’s game, Donovan was most worried about the Gators’ rebounding and if they would be able to step up to a team with a size advantage. To that end, he was quite pleased with Florida’s performance.

“We really made it, the last week or two, something that we really focused on. It was an area we did a pretty good job,” he said. “We got 13 offensive rebounds and, collectively in the first half, we did a pretty good job and didn’t get hurt on the backboard, which was encouraging.”

He was also happy that his team held Jared Sullinger to just eight shots and was able to press on defense without giving up “a lot of back end layups and dunks to him.”

However, the defeat also exposed some of UF’s problems, which Donovan laid out one-by-one. The first was offensive recognition, knowing where the ball needs to go on each possession depending on the flow of the game and defense the team is facing.

“We didn’t have that at all,” he said. “Pat plays the whole entire first half and took one shot. I respect the fact that he kept himself in the game. In the second half we did a better job getting it to him in and around the basket. He was 5-for-9 from the field in the second half. There was times where Murphy was wide open and our guards drove it, just didn’t see him, and they have to recognize.”

He also noted that the Gators (obviously) have to work on their foul shooting and penchant for turning the ball over. Both facets of the game were worked on during practice on Wednesday, and Florida hopes to show improvement in both areas against North Florida.

PLAYER EVALUATIONS

Senior point guard Erving Walker (and his turnovers vs. OSU): “That hurt us. Our recognition on a lot of plays – this is not unfamiliar this time of year. We struggled with this a little last year. [Erik] Murphy’s got it going and there were a couple opportunities where Erving drove it too deep and could have before he got there thrown it to Murphy, and we missed him. Being up by eight points there, I really thought we had a couple stops in a row that we could have extended it to a bigger lead.”

Freshman guard Brad Beal: “He turned it over a few times, and Ohio State tried to deny some things out of bounds. […] For him as a freshman, going through this was a good experience. I still think he has a lot of growth to make in terms of the physicality, speed and quickness of the game – just how competitive it is in that kind of environment. He plays and doesn’t seem to get bothered by too much. There were times last night he tried to kick it into a different gear; knowing when and how to is something he’s probably going to have to learn a little bit. I didn’t think he shot it particularly well like he is capable of.”

Sophomore center Patric Young: “I was really pleased with him. One, he played the game without being in a lot of foul trouble. He played with great energy and a really good motor. He kept himself in the game even though he really was not an offensive threat for the first 20 minutes. We missed him a few times. A few times he needed to post up where he didn’t post up in certain situations. Coming out of the half we made a focus to try and get him the ball a little bit. I was just encouraged with his activity and how hard he played. I’ve seen a lot of front court guys – when they’re playing and they’re battling and banging and physically rebounding and outletting and running the floor and they don’t get it – they get really frustrated. It was good to see that he didn’t, kept playing through it, and eventually the ball came to him and found him and he did some good things around the basket. There are still a lot of things he needs to get better at, but the one thing I was pleased with was how hard he played and competed in the game physically.”

Sophomore forward Will Yeguete: “The playing in France probably was a good thing. The one thing I probably would have liked to have seen is see his body change a bit more from the summer. He’s done a good job here with preseason conditioning in the six weeks we had. The one thing with Will is I think he has a pretty good identity of who he is – a lot of times players can not really understand and want to be something they’re not. I don’t think you’re going to see him take a lot of crazy shots. He is what he is. He’s a really good defender who can guard four different positions. He’s a terrific rebounder who can get to the offensive glass.”

Junior F Erik Murphy: “He is one of our better shooters. He got off to a good start there. We found him a few time and he knocked down a couple shots. He gives us a different look because now you have four guys spaced behind the three-point line, which is a different look for us and definitely helps us. We’ve got to utilize him a little bit more when he is open and there is triple penetration, making those decisions. That’s a hard thing for a guard – when you’re driving the ball down the lane, looking for holes and gaps, what’s open is now closed and what was closed now reopens and you got to make those split second decisions – ad I think we struggled with that in a lot of ways.”

“He’s always shot like that. He’s always been a good shooter. Even when he came in here as a freshman, I always felt like he was a good shooter. He’s gaining more and more confidence with that. He’s shot the ball very well in practice. […] He shoots it like [Matt] Bonner. Bonner probably was a little bit better off the dribble, putting it down. He can ball fake one or two dribbles, make a play, pass or shot. I think Murph has got to get better at that, but I do think he’s a high-level three-point shooters. I think he’s one of our better three-point shooters when his feet are set.”

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Allen’s Alley: Florida has room for improvement

A four-year member of the Florida Gators basketball program under head coach Billy Donovan, former forward Adam Allen – a four-star recruit coming out of Milton High School – was forced to retire due to multiple knee surgeries. No longer with the team, he has joined OGGOA as a basketball columnist and will provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2011-12 season.

Two games into the young season, the No.7/8 Florida Gators have shown plenty of promise but had some of their weaknesses exposed on Tuesday.

Florida rolled over Jackson State in the opener but followed that up with a tough 81-74 road loss to No. 3 Ohio State. Going on the road this early in the season to face a top-five opponent will prove to be a great learning experience for the young Gators, just as it has been for previous teams under head coach Billy Donovan.

Playing against such a talented team in a hostile environment will always reveal where a squad is while simultaneously showing some of its flaws. Visiting Ohio State as a freshmen in 2007, I can attest to how tough it is to play in Columbus, OH. The hope now is that Florida can use this loss as a true learning experience and move forward with the rest of their season.

Read the rest of this edition of Allen’s Alley…after the break!
Continue Reading » Allen’s Alley: Florida has room for improvement

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11/15: Florida at Ohio State post-game notes

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators played their first road game of the 2011-12 season on Tuesday evening, falling 81-74 to the No. 3/3 Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena in Columbus, OH. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some Florida players discussed the contest they just played.

DISPARITY OF TURNOVERS, FREE THROWS DOOM GATORS

A lot can be said about Tuesday’s clash between Florida and Ohio State, but two areas in which the Gators were noticeably deficient were in hanging onto ball and taking advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe. UF coughed the ball up nine times in the first half and on seven more occasions after the break. OSU, on the other hand, only turned the ball over seven times the whole game.

“That allowed them to really get back in the game,” Donovan said of the miscues. “We had a stretch where [Mike] Rosario turned it over twice and our backcourt, I thought, turned it over way too much. Any time you turn the ball over, that’s not good playing on the road against a good offensive team. The turnovers on the road certainly hurt you. It’s going to be good for our guys to watch the film.”

Freshman guard Brad Beal was the worst offender with a game-high five turnovers, but senior point guard Erving Walker gave the ball up three times (officially), as did sophomore G Kenny Boynton. Walker and Boynton also combined to go just 4-for-9 from the free throw line, something Donovan blamed on himself.

“We have not shot enough – as much as we need to,” he said about free throw drills during practice. Donovan noted that more time had not been spent on those shots because the team had been doing too much preparation early in the season with installations and trying to perfect other areas of their game.

Florida missed eight free throws and shot just 61.9 percent from the line.

POOR SHOT SELECTION HURT MOMENTUM

The Gators started the game on fire and used the hot hand of junior forward Erik Murphy to jump ahead 14-6 after he hit his third three. Then things started to fall apart, and it appeared to start with Florida rushing possessions and taking bad shots.

“As the game wore on in the first half, we were taking too many shots too quick,” Donovan said. “We didn’t make good decisions of what was open and what was available to take advantage of. We got into some quick shooting, certainly in the second half we did, which allowed them to open up the game.

“When we moved the ball side-to-side and really got it popping around there – the ball was moving and we were getting penetration, kick-outs, inside and out, we were very effective scoring. When the first guy tried to make a play, it usually resulted in something bad.”

Though others were also to blame, Walker certainly took some bad shots early in the game. He finished 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown with just four points.

“Erv got off to a tough night shooting. One of the things that he can learn from and grow from is an understanding…for Erving when things are not going great for him, there’s still so many other things he can do for our team,” Donovan insisted. “He’s such a good, solid player. He’s made a lot of big shots, and he’s done a lot of great things for us.

“But he’s got to understand that as a catalyst back there, he’s got to almost show a disposition and attitude of great mental toughness that is not going to break or wilt at all. As a senior, he has such high expectations for himself that he probably at times puts too much on his shoulders. He’s got to understand that he’s got a bunch of guys with him that can help.”

YOUNG PLAYED WELL BY NOT STANDING UP TO SULLINGER

Apparently a conversation with former Gators star Joakim Noah helped Young prepare for the task of defending 2010 Freshman of the Year Jared Sullinger. Young said the two spoke before the game and Noah communicated to him that he had to change his shape in order to play better defense against such a talented player.

“A lot of guys lull themselves to sleep and just stand and give him opportunities to duck them in. I had the mindset, I talked to Joakim Noah earlier, [he told me] ‘Pat, you stand up too much on defense. You stand straight up. If you stand up like that, any post player in the country will duck you in,’” Young recalled. “Coach Donovan has really been emphasizing position on me as well. So this game I really focused on staying low. Every time he came on offense he was going to feel my presence. I was going to let him know I was there and not give him anything easy.”

Sullinger scored 16 points on Tuesday but only hit 50 percent of his shots (half of his points came from the free throw line though Young only committed two fouls in the game). Donovan noted that Young defended him quite well.

“Overall I thought Pat’s size and strength against him was a big help. [Sullinger] never really got deep, deep post position where he could just catch, turn and score,” he said. “I got a lot of respect and admiration for [Young] as a frontcourt player to play and battle against Sullinger and only really get one shot off and play with that energy. I was proud that he never got frustrated in the game and just kept playing.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on how Ohio State got separation in the second half: “We got off to a really good start, which I think you want to do on the road, and then it went back-and-forth. Our defense in the first half was really good. We let Sullinger get to the free throw line a little too much, but I thought we did a nice job on him as a team and I thought Pat did a good job. We, for a period of time there, shots were not going in for us and we needed to have a better resiliency in terms of that we need to go back and play defense. When you play good teams and go on the road, you got to have something to fall back on when shots aren’t going. Maybe the first eight minutes we were shooting 29 percent and they were up around 60 [percent] that enabled them to get it around 8-10-12 and we were trying to fight back.”

» Donovan on OSU PG Aaron Craft: “Clearly he dominated the game from start to finish. He was the whole key to me in the game. More importantly, he really did it defensively. He physically beat up our guards. I’m not saying that our guards got fouled – it was totally within the context of the rules of the game. He physically manhandled our guards I thought, and he did it against everybody. Steals, strips, loose balls, drives – he’s as good as any guard there is out there. I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for him because he’s a tough, hard-nosed kid who probably does not get the respect in my opinion that he deserves.”

» Beal on the Buckeyes: “We were caught off guard at times where we weren’t guarding the ball well enough. They really just played better than our guards.”

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No. 3 Ohio State tops No. 8 Florida 81-74

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators flew to Columbus, OH looking for a signature victory early in the season against a new rival and one of the top teams in the country.

Florida (1-1) did not succeed to that end but held serve against the No. 3/3 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0), falling 81-74 in a Global Sports Shootout game on Tuesday night.

Ohio State senior guard William Buford led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and Buckeyes sophomore center Jared Sullinger contributed 16 points and five rebounds in his team’s winning effort.

Florida opened the contest with an early 8-2 lead and jumped ahead 14-6 with 14:07 left in the first half after junior forward Erik Murphy hit his third-straight shot from downtown.

It did not take long for Ohio State to answer as OSU took advantage of nine first-half UF turnovers and outscored the Gators 10-3, holding a 35-32 lead at the break.

The Buckeyes came out firing in the second half, scoring five unanswered points and using a 15-6 run to take a 12-point lead with 13:42 remaining. Ohio State put their foot on the pedal at that point, eventually going up a game-high 16 points with under eight minutes to play.

Florida, however, refused to go away. Freshman G Brad Beal scored five quick points on a trey and layup, and Murphy put back a missed layup by Beal to complete a 7-0 run that cut UF’s deficit to single digits, 64-55.

The Gators were unable to maintain their newly found momentum, allowing OSU to keep a significant lead for the remainder of the contest. Junior G Kenny Boynton hit a pair of threes with less than a minute to play, but it was too little too late for Florida.

Beal led the Gators with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting (3-for-7 from downtown) but also coughed up a game-high five turnovers.

Sophomore C Patric Young, tasked with guarding Sullinger all evening, finished 14 points and 12 rebounds for his second-straight double-double. Boynton and Murphy also scored in double figures, contributing 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Senior point guard Erving Walker, tasked by head coach Billy Donovan to be a game manager this year, had four assists, three turnovers and six rebounds. He scored just four points and was 1-for-6 from the field (0-for-3 from beyond the arc).

Florida went 11/22 from downtown on the evening and outrebounded Ohio State 34-25 (10-5 offensive) but gave up nine more turnovers (16-7) and hit 14 fewer free throws (27-13). UF shot just 61.9 percent from the line compared to 79.4 percent by OSU.

The Gators have less than 48 hours to prepare for their next opponent as they are set to return home to take on North Florida on Thursday at 8 p.m. The game will air live on FOX Sports Florida; check your local listings for availability.

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No. 8 Florida Gators at No. 3 Ohio State Gameday

Event: Global Sports Shootout
Location: Value City Arena – Columbus, OH [Capacity: 18,809]
Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2/ESPN2HD
SiriusXM: 85
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(8) FLORIDA GATORS (3) OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Thad Matta
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big Ten
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +10, O/U 136.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before the big game? No problem. OGGOA has been here all season long compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

Allen’s Alley: Previewing the 2011-12 Gators | The Countdown: 35-23, 15-1

Ohio State pre-game | Jackson State post-game | UF routs JSU by 40

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Ohio State leads the all-time series against Florida 4-7. The Gators are winless against the Buckeyes in Columbus, OH (0-3) but are 2-2 all-time against them under the stewardship of Donovan. UF defeated OSU 84-75 to win the 2007 NCAA Championship.
» Florida and Ohio State won their respective conferences in 2010-11.
» UF and OSU are each without three starters from a year ago. The Gators no longer have Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus or Vernon Macklin, while the Buckeyes are missing Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty and Jon Diebler.
» Florida has never defeated an opponent ranked in the top three in a true road game and has not taken down one ranked No. 4 or better in such a contest since 1988.
» The Gators won their 21st consecutive season opener last week.
» Florida is 7-7 against Big Ten teams under Donovan.
» Ohio State is returning four of their top six scorers from a year ago.
» The Gators won three out of every four road games they played in 2010-11 and captured eight true road victories for the first time since 1993-94.
» Florida has made a three-pointer in 652 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» UF has the best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.558) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» Tuesday’s game is part of the Global Sports Shootout, in which five teams each play four games against common opponents to begin the season.
» Ohio State has held 11-straight opponents under 67 points.
» The Buckeyes are 81-5 at home against non-conference opponents.
» OSU is 33-5 in November under Matta.
» Ohio State was 19-0 at home in 2010-11, shot 50 percent from the field on their court, outscored opponents by 24.1 points per game and outrebounded them by 6.1 boards.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Ohio State squared off one year ago in the first contest of a home-and-home series scheduled between the two teams. The Gators held a three-point advantage heading into the locker rooms but were outscored 55-34 in the second half, falling 93-75 in Gainesville, FL. Jared Sullinger and David Lighty each scored 26 points for the Buckeyes, which dominated the latter portion of the game by playing from the inside out. Ohio State was able to take advantage of Florida’s press and knocked down 24-of-34 shots in the second half to take the lead and eventually earn the victory. Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 21 points on an efficient 8-of-14 shooting (5-for-8 from downtown), and three other UF players including Chandler Parsons, Erving Walker and Vernon Macklin scored in double figures.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 108 consecutive games with 47-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in points (1,340), minutes (3,222) and treys (217) but also ranks second in assists (381) and steals (123) as well as third in free throws (329). Walker is No. 24 on the school’s all-time scoring list and No. 5 in field goals made and attempted (567).
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and hopes to shoot better than he did a year ago (38.5 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks fifth in the SEC among active players in points (1,001) and fourth in three-pointers (152).
» Freshman G Brad Beal (#23)…who is starting at the three for Florida fresh out of high school. Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, one of the top five players in the country, and is arguably the most talented player to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over. He averaged 32.5 points, 5.7 boards, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game as a high school senior.
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joins the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young saw action in all 37 games as a freshman, averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action. He achieved his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 boards in the season opener.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who is finally playing for Florida after transferring out of Rutgers and sitting out the 2010-11 season. Rosario scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons with his former team and averaged 16.7 points per game during his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ de facto sixth man and will see starter’s minutes each contest.

OHIO STATE
» C Jared Sullinger (#0)…who returns for his second season after being named Freshman of the Year during his rookie campaign and a preseason All-American as a sophomore. Sullinger averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 boards a year ago while posting 26 points on 13-of-17 shooting against Florida in Gainesville. He has already scored in double figures 35 times in his career including in Ohio State’s season opener.
» G William Buford (#44)…who is the Buckeyes’ elder statesman in his fourth year and is the only player on Ohio State with more than one year of playing experience. Ranked No. 21 on OSU’s all-time scoring list, Buford has 1,437 career points in 107 games (13.4 average) and was the team’s leading scorer during the 2009-10 season.
» PG Aaron Craft (#4)…who led Ohio State in assists (177) and steals (73) last year while also averaging 6.9 points. Craft was called one of the best players at his position by Donovan, who was impressed with his work off the bench last season.

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