Gators trounce Hornets 84-35 in season opener

Coming off a weather-shortened season opener against Georgetown aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, FL on Friday that was suspended at halftime and established as an exhibition game, No. 10 Florida Gators basketball could have had a let down in its new season opener against the Alabama State Hornets on Sunday. Instead, Florida (1-0) dominated Alabama State (0-1) from the tip, held the visitors to the lowest scoring output for an opponent since 2006 and rode its massive halftime advantage to an 84-35 victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators, winning their 22nd-straight season opener (17th-in-a-row under head coach Billy Donovan), outscored the Hornets 47-9 in the first half and ended the first 20 minutes on a 32-4 run with a three-pointer by senior guard Kenny Boynton serving as an exclamation point. Florida set a school record in the shot clock era by holding Alabama State to just nine first-half points; UF had not previously held a team under double digits in a single half.

Never trailing, the Gators took an 8-0 lead out of the gate and did not look back. Three Florida players individually outscored the entire Alabama State team in the first half as the Gators shot 57.1 percent and held their opponents to just 8.3 percent.

Florida kept the pressure on early in the second half, using a 17-5 scoring edge to take a 50-point lead with 14:05 left in the contest. UF would extend its lead to a game-high 62 points in the final 30 seconds.

The Gators dominated the Hornets in the post, outrebounding Alabama State 50-30 and outscoring them in the post 36-12. Florida had 18 assists on 28 made baskets, went 8-for-24 from beyond the arc (33.3 percent) and made 20-of-30 free throws (66.6 percent).

Playing point guard, Boynton led the way for the Gators with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting (4-for-4 from downtown), adding five assists and six rebounds. Junior center Patric Young complimented him nicely in the post, notching the fifth double-double of his career with 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Redshirt senior G Mike Rosario (14 points) and senior F Erik Murphy (15 points) also scored in double-digits, and junior F Will Yeguete added seven boards and five assists along with three points.

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TWO BITS: women’s basketball, Frazier, Strong

1 » Participating in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center-hosted Gator Holiday Classic, Florida Gators women’s basketball (10-3) defeated the Alabama State Hornets (2-7) and Robert Morris Colonials (4-6) in consecutive days to capture the tournament title. Florida’s freshman guard Brittany Shine was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Performer after accounting for 47 points and 10 assists in a two-game span. Also honored after the event was freshman G Jattera Bonds, who scored 16 points and notched 12 assists to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. The Gators dominated the Hornets 95-38 on Monday and took it to the Colonials 70-50 on Tuesday.

3 » With Florida basketball struggling already this season, there is plenty of anticipation from fans to see 2011 five-star shooting guard Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) burst on the scene next season. While Beal is expected to be the next great player to step foot in the O’Connell Center, 2012 four-star SG Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL) – also a Gators commitment – is making a name for himself during his junior season. Frazier posted 45 points in the Bright House Networks Tournament Championship game on Tuesday, leading his team to a 71-69 victory while earning MVP honors. He scored 110 total points in three games in the tournament including 40 in the semifinal game.

Extra BIT » Former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, currently in his first season as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, led his team to victory in the 2010 Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, FL. Strong’s Cardinals defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and head coach Larry Fedora, a former offensive coordinator of the Gators. Louisville’s victory marked the team’s seventh bowl game win since it started playing football in 1912 and capped an inaugural season in which Strong posted a 7-6 record. The Cardinals finished 4-8 in 2009.

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