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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11/14: Donovan, Boynton, Young talk Ohio State

With No. 7/8 Florida Gators basketball set to take on the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes Tuesday evening in Columbus, OH, head coach Billy Donovan, junior guard Kenny Boynton and sophomore center Patric Young met with the media Monday to discuss what preparations have been made for the first road game of the season.

CONTAINING SULLINGER IS PRIORITY NO. 1

When it comes to preparing for Ohio State, center Jared Sullinger always stands out on film as the most dominant player on the court. Like most teams, Florida will do what it can to reduce the effectiveness of a player who averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game just one season ago.

“We’ve faced enough big, strong, physical guys. The thing with Sullinger to me that makes him great is he has a great basketball IQ and he’s very smart. He understands how to play. He’s a really good passer. He understands how to play angles. He’s a very good offensive rebounder. He’s a good decision maker and can certainly score inside and out,” Donovan said Monday.

“People talk about his size, but the thing that’s never talked about when you watch him on film…I have a great deal of respect for him because he really understands the game. He reminds me of a throwback guy from a long, long time ago.”

Sullinger and Gators sophomore C Patric Young are quite familiar with each other from their days in AAU basketball. Though they did not go head-to-head much when the Buckeyes came to Gainesville, FL last Nov. 16, Sullinger’s 26 points (on 13-of-17 shooting) and 10 boards that evening undoubtedly stood out and made him an even bigger target this year.

“The game plan is to keep him off the boards, not let him get anything easy,” Young said of Sullinger. “He’s a good player, and he’s going to a few score points here and there. Don’t let him get anything easy. He scores a lot of points off of offensive rebounds, so keep him off of that. Everyone just contain their other guys.”

Young realizes Tuesday night’s game is not just about his personal competition with Sullinger and plans to play within himself throughout the contest.

“I keep realizing that the game is not about me; it’s about our team. Picking up dumb fouls isn’t really good because we’re short in our frontcourt this year. It would be bad if I picked up a dumb foul trying to make the game about me,” he said.

Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton likes what he has seen from Young in practice this week and is confident in his ability to make an impact Tuesday. “Pat has been more focused this week, definitely focused on getting better position in the low post,” he said. “I think he’s ready.”

NEW LOOK LINEUPS THIS SEASON

The series between UF and OSU may be going strong but there has been plenty of turnover since it began a few years ago. Just between 2010-11 and 2011-12, each team has lost three starters heading into the contest.

The Gators, of course, will be without their three forwards – Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin – while the Buckeyes no longer feature Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty and Jon Diebler. Florida sees this as an advantage heading into Tuesday’s contest.

“They don’t have the same leadership hey had in Lighty and Diebler last year, but they’re still a good team,” Young said. We feel we have an opportunity to disrupt those guys because their chemistry isn’t as good as it was last year.”

Boynton thinks UF’s defense will be the most improved.

“Watching our team on film last year, we did not play defense very well at all last year. I feel that the defensive presence for this team is a lot better than the team last year,” he said. We had to elevate our team’s level to a really high level at the end of the year last year, and I think now we’re better than that team.

“We are going there for the win this year. It’s going to be on the road; they beat us at our home last year. We’re definitely looking forward to getting the win this year.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on the Florida-Ohio State series: “I think it’s been really good hopefully for them because I know it’s been very good for us. The second game of the year, getting a chance really to find where we are going on the road against a good, quality team has been good. The history of the football team playing for the national championship game and then us having to play them twice in that one year. […] I know coming out of this game we’re going to find out a lot more about our team because it’s a great test not only playing against a good team but playing on their home court.”

» Donovan on point guard Aaron Craft: “He probably doesn’t get enough recognition for his speed and quickness. He’s very quick, heady, tough kid. Another guy I’ve really enjoyed watching play. He was on the all-defensive team in the big 10. He’s a great defender. He’s great with his hands and comes up with a lot of steals. He’s got toughness and is savvy. I would classify him as a winner. He’s a winner. His ability to do what he did last year [at point guard] allowed [William] Buford to play a little bit more to his strengths.”

» Donovan on junior forward Erik Murphy: “Offensively the strength of Erik is shooting the basketball. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the first game, but in that game he ended up having five rebounds and probably should have had 10-12 in the game. He had a lot of balls knocked out of his hands and plays in traffic where he couldn’t come down with it; he was off-balance. We just need Erik to continue to defend, rebound and be a threat offensively, to make good decisions.”

» Donovan on UF participating in something like the Carrier Classic: “There was talk last year for next year for us doing that. I would definitely be interested. We’ve been invited to do a lot of different things. […] We try to balance those neutral site games and also for our fans have an Ohio State come in, and Arizona come in, obviously we have the home-and-home with Florida State. We try to have for our fans really high levels of teams that people identify with as it relates to college basketball. The balance of being able to do that and then not just being totally overloaded where you’re all over the place. I’m always open to – I thought that stuff was really a great thing for our country, a great thing for college basketball and something I would be interested in if it made sense for our schedule.”

» Boynton on how he has improved this year: “Gym time pretty much. I think I’ve been in the gym a lot more than I was previously. That’s pretty much why the first two games I was better.”

» Boynton on former players talking to the team: “It’s definitely good. Chandler [Parsons] I played with him for two years; he gives great advice about defense. Chandler did the small things like rebounding and things like that. Joakim [Noah] sometimes talks to us about winning, how they won and how focused you have to be to win it all.”

» Young on if he was happier about his double-double or one foul against Jackson State: “I’m sure the one foul made [the media] happier, but the double-double made me happier. [The media] always think I’m going to foul out or something. [Laughing]”

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