Florida grounds Air Force 78-61 in Sunrise

In front of a crowd filled with orange and blue even though Saturday’s contest was billed as a neutral site game, No. 11/14 Florida Gators basketball (9-2) put together a strong second half to ground the Air Force Falcons (8-3) in the 2012 Orange Bowl Classic at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL.

Florida, behind three second-half three-pointers from senior guard Kenny Boynton, outscored Air Force by 15 and hit 70 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes, pulling away for a 78-61 victory.

Erik Murphy, who was voted the contest’s MVP after registering a game-highs of 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He shot 8-of-10 from the floor and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Though the Falcons stuck to what they were good at and succeeded in keeping the game close by going 9-for-20 from three, UF blew it open in the second half with a 36-24 advantage on the boards and an overwhelming 38 points in the paint.

Senior forward Patric Young also scored in double-digits for Florida, posting 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting with four boards and a rejection.

Air Force standout senior G Michael Lyons registered team-highs of 11 points and seven rebounds but went just 3-of-12 from the floor in the game.

The Gators will conclude their non-conference schedule after the New Year by travelling to Yale on Jan. 6 for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Network.

Read the Florida-Air Force post-game report…after the break!
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Gameday: (11) Florida Gators vs. Air Force

Event: 2012 MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic
Location: BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL [Capacity: 20,737]
Time: 4:30 p.m. EST

TV: FSN/FSNHD (Rich Waltz, Mark Wise)
SiriusXM: 94/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: None | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 11 FLORIDA GATORS AIR FORCE FALCONS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Dave Pilipovich
Record: 8-2 Record: 8-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mountain West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -20.5 | O/U 131.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 1-0 all-time against Air Force with the lone game played in 1963 as part of the Gator Bowl Tournament. UF took a 74-68 victory in that game and is 3-1 all-time against service academies.
» The Gators are 9-2 all-time in the OBBC and will be participating in the event for the 12th time in the last 13 years.
» Four of UF’s regular starters are averaging double figures.
» Florida has held six of its 10 opponents under 50 points but has given up 61 or more points in three of its last six games (1-2).
» UF is 33-3 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (8-2 in 2012-13).
» The Gators were just 3-5 against top-25 opponents last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams. UF is currently scheduled to take on seven top-25 opponents as part of the 2012-13 campaign and is already 1-1 in such games.
» Florida is third nationally in scoring defense (51.3), eighth in scoring margin (+20.9), 13th in field goal percentage defense (.359) and 20th in rebound margin (+8.7).
» The Gators are ninth nationally in fouling, committing 13.6 per game, and 111th nationally in assists, dishing just 14.0 per game.
» All five Falcons starters are seniors.
» Air Force seventh nationally in three-pointers per game (9.1) and turnover margin (+6.1), 15th nationally in three-point shooting (.492) and 28th in assists (16.5).
» The Falcons are 199th in rebounding margin (-0.1) and 277th in free throw shooting, connecting on just 64.6 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe.
» Air Force has eight players that have attempted 10 or more treys already this season.

Read the rest of the Florida-Air Force preview with much more after the break!
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SIX BITS: Parsons, Tebow, Wambach, Debose

1 » A report early Friday morning from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chad Ford notes that former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons, a second-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets last year who had a stellar rookie season with the franchise, may wind up playing for the Orlando Magic in 2012 if his current franchise is successful in completing a trade for All-Star center Dwight Howard. Sources told Stein and Ford that Houston recently “sweetened” its offer to Orlando and that Parsons is one of four current players the Rockets would send to the Magic as part of an enormous package. Though nothing is imminent whatsoever, Houston has been in hot pursuit of Howard as of late. The Rockets traded for numerous first-round draft selections that they used in June (all of which would go to the Magic in the deal) and are trying to clear tons of cap space in order to give Howard a maximum contract and absorb expensive contracts as part of the trade. Should Parsons wind up getting traded, he would be able to play professionally in front of his family as he grew up in nearby Casselbery, FL.

2 » Coming off of a successful rookie season with Maccabi Ashdod of the Israeli league in which he averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, former Gators F Alex Tyus has signed a two-year deal to play for Pallacanestro Cantu in Italy, according to Sportando. Tyus, who recently received his Israeli citizenship and passport, will also play for the Israeli National Team while he is over in Europe. His contract with Cantu is worth $525,000 over the two seasons.

3 » Florida basketball is set to compete in the 2012 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic this season and will take part in the event for the 12th time in the last 13 years and 14th time in team history. It was revealed on Tuesday via a press release that UF will take on the Air Force Falcons in the event, marking the first time since 2008 that they will play a “lower-tier” program in the event (the Gators have faced Richmond, Kansas State and Texas A&M in Sunrise, FL over the last three seasons). The two-game tournament will be held on Dec. 29 at the BankAtlantic Center with Florida State and Tulsa going head-to-head in the first game of the doubleheader.

Read three more BITS on Lochte, Tebow, Wambach and Debose…after the break!
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