Two days after scoring a total of 45 points in a close win against Auburn on the road, the Florida Gators (15-4, 4-1 SEC) put up 39 in the first half alone and went on to demolish the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-6, 2-3 SEC) 75-43 on Saturday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.
Florida rebounded from the worst offensive performance in head coach Billy Donovan‘s tenure in the Orange and Blue with what can only be considered an offensive explosion by comparison.
The Gators made it a point to force the ball inside the paint to the bigs at the beginning of the game. After the Razorbacks’ first basket, redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin scored eight-straight points and senior F Alex Tyus added a layup to complete a 10-0 run. Florida would follow that up with an impressive 12-0 run to jump ahead 29-11 with 7:03 left in the first.
Looking to make a statement heading into the locker rooms, the Gators ended the opening half on an 8-0 run, which included sophomore guard Kenny Boynton’s second three-pointer of the game, to go up 23 points at the break.
Florida shot 57.1 percent from the field, 50 percent from downtown and 66.7 percent from the line in the first half. They also made 16 shots – one more than they did throughout the entire game on Thursday.
Going back-and-forth much of the second half, the Gators led by 31 a number of times before ending the contest up a game-high 32 points when freshman G/F Casey Prather completed an alley-oop dunk with the clock winding down.
Boynton, breaking out of a slump he has suffered through most of the season, scored a game-high 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting while connecting on 4-of-7 attempts from downtown. Macklin and Tyus each posted 13 points and went a combined 11-for-17 from the floor. Held scoreless in the first half, Parsons ended up with five points, a career-high 15 rebounds and a game-high five assists.
Florida’s reserves were just as efficient as the starters with Prather, sophomore F Erik Murphy and freshman C Patric Young each scoring six points on a combined 14 shots. Tyus added seven boards while Macklin, Young and Prather contributed four apiece.
UF also excelled on defense Saturday, holding Arkansas’ leading scorer G Rotnei Clarke scoreless on two attempts. Forwards Delvon Johnson and Marshawn Powell led the Razorbacks with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Gators dominated every aspect of the game; they not only shot better but also out-rebounded their opponent 41-26, dished 13 more assists (18-5), grabbed two more steals (6-4), blocked four more shots (5-1) and committed six fewer turnovers (7-13). Florida held Arkansas to 30 percent shooting from the field and 15.4 percent from downtown while keeping their second-straight opponent from scoring 45 points. In fact, the Gators’ two-game opponent point total of 83 points is the lowest ever in Southeastern Conference play under Donovan.
Florida hopes to keep the momentum going as they travel to face Georgia on the road on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN.
Photo Credit: Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun-Associated Press