Florida Gators basketball held an opponent to 55 points for the second-straight game on Sunday. However, unlike their previous performance against North Carolina A&T in which Florida posted 105 points on offense, the No. 9/10 Gators (3-1) were only able to put up 61 against a high-energy Morehead State Eagles (2-2) team at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.
Down 6-2 to start the game, Florida rattled off a 30-6 run to take a 32-12 lead late in the first half and ultimately go into the locker room up 34-17. Junior point guard Erving Walker led the way for the Gators early, scoring 14 first-half points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Morehead State started the second half hot, using a 9-0 run to cut Florida’s lead to six (45-39) with 10:50 left in the game. The contest went back-and-forth from there, with sophomore guard Kenny Boynton scoring eight points (two three-pointers) in just over two minutes to give the Gators a 58-47 advantage with 3:49 remaining.
The Eagles would reduce their deficit to six points on a layup from center Kenneth Faried with 0:24 left on the clock and then down to five via a trey from G Ty Proffitt with nine seconds remaining, but UF would hang on for the win.
Though Walker finished with a team-high 16 points, he only scored two in the second half; he also had seven assists and shot an uncharacteristically poor 5-for-10 from the free throw line. Senior forward Chandler Parsons recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Boynton scored 10 points on a paltry 3-of-12 from the field.
Senior F Alex Tyus (five points, four rebounds) and redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin (six points, seven rebounds) struggled in the post against Fariet, who notched game-highs in points (20) and rebounds (18) while shooting 10-of-17.
Florida and Morehead State each shot poorly from the field (38.9% – 36.7%), from downtown (26.3% – 20.0%) and at the line (60.9% – 58.3%). The Eagles out-rebounded the Gators (38-32) and stole two more balls (5-3) but committed 10 more fouls (21-11).
UF will look for answers after this dismal showing before facing Florida Atlantic at home on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on Sun Sports (check your local listings).
POST-GAME NOTES & QUOTES (After the break…)
On the difference between the two halfs: “I was really, really happy with the way we played in the first half. We really did a terrific job in the first half. I though the difference in the second half was Faried totally dominated our frontcourt by himself. We really had a hard time as the second half started to unfold guarding their perimeter on the dribble. We had some pretty decent looks on offense; we moved the ball fairly well. It was one of those games where we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well and it’s a game where you’re going to have to rely on your defense. I definitely thought, in the second half, our inability to put the ball in the basket had a direct affect on our emotional level and the way we played in terms of battling through the adversity and the difficulties we were having offensively.”
On Faried’s talent: “That guy Faried, to me, is a senior in college. That guy wants to be a pro. That’s Dennis Rodman all over again. If I was a NBA general manager, I’d be taking him right with my pick. That’s what a next level guy looks like – in my opinion. […] He just totally destroyed our frontcourt. That was definitely an incredible performance by just a terrific player.”
On if Faried is talented enough to play in the SEC: “He’s not talented at all. And it’s a great lesson for our guys. He’s not a talented player. He has absolutely no offensive skill. He’s not a great post player, he’s not a great scorer. He’s a relentless – and I use that will all capitals – a RELENTLESS effort guy. In terms of going after every single rebound. We intentionally tonight had our 4 man and our 5 man on free throw situations blocking him out. Twice against two people he got the rebound on a missed free throw. It is just a perseverance, it’s a mentality, it’s a make-up, it’s who he is. He is a complete warrior, and I have the utmost respect for him and the way he plays the game. At the next level there’s such a value for Dennis Rodman-type guys, and he’s like a Dennis Rodman-type guy.”
On why some freshman didn’t play earlier: “We had two guys late – and it probably hurt our rotation. We had two guys walk in late. Both guys walked in late and I was a little concerned going into the game because I didn’t really think it was fair to Kenny Boynton and to Erving Walker and to Chandler not really having a whole lot of subs – because the [late people] were perimeter guys. Our guys learned a valuable lesson about the importance of being on time and trying to do the right things. They’re great kids and hopefully they’ll learn a lesson on where they need to be on time. When you got a game and you’re expected to be somewhere, I expect those guys to be there. It’s not going to linger any more than today.”
On maintaining the energy advantage with a big lead: “When you’re up on a team by 17 points, it’s almost like you know the other team is going to come out and they’re going to battle and fight. If you give them a glimmer of hope that they can get back in the game the first four-or-five minutes in the half, you create a level of energy for that team that you’re going to have to deal with the rest of the half. And we did that.”
On Tyus’ late contributions: “Alex made a couple of incredible plays defensively to me [in the last few minutes]. He went up and blocked a shot and he made a couple different plays. Alex was up on the glass really trying. He did some very, very good things the last couple of minutes. He gave us a presence at the rim; he went after a couple shots and really jumped. There was a loose ball we came down with that was all predicated on his effort.”