No. 9 Gators exposed as No. 4 Buckeyes roll 93-75

Billed as one of the premiere games to start the 2010-11 college basketball season, the No. 9/10 Florida Gators and No. 4/5 Ohio State Buckeyes squared off Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Unfortunately, after an intense first half, only one team showed up to close out the game with the Buckeyes (2-0) trouncing the Gators (1-1) 93-75.

Defense and ball control doomed Florida in the second half; UF allowed Ohio State to score 55 points and shoot 70.6 percent from the floor as they tore through the press and scored in bunches on the fast break.

Freshman forward Jared Sullinger and junior guard David Lighty led the way for OSU with 26 points apiece. Sullinger dominated down low making 13-of-17 shots and notching 10 rebounds (five offensive), while Lighty was the most efficient starter of the court draining 9-of-11 buckets.

Gators sophomore G Kenny Boynton had one of his best offensive performances in the orange and blue, going 8-of-14 from the field and 5-of-8 from downtown for 21 points. Defensively he struggled in the press and had trouble in containment.

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin rebounded from a rough opening game with an intense first half that included 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He was shut down after halftime with only one more bucket on two attempts. Also struggling late was junior point guard Erving Walker, who turned the ball over six times after the half and finished with seven giveaways. By contrast, the Buckeyes had eight turnovers as a team.

Florida took a seven-point lead in the first half but went into the locker room up only three even though they out-rebounded Ohio State 17-7. The two teams went back-and-forth to start the second half with the Buckeyes taking the lead over the Gators for good with 12:14 left on a three-pointer from G Jon Diebler to go up 59-57.

OSU outscored UF 37-18 down the stretch and took a game-high 20-point lead on a dunk by F Dallas Lauderdale with 1:15 to go. Ohio State finished the second half shooting a spectacular 70.6 percent from the field compared to 63.2 percent for Florida.

In all, the Buckeyes got off 13 more shots than the Gators, notched 11 more assists (22-11) and gave up significantly fewer turnovers (18-8). However, they were out-rebounded 26-17 with the majority of the difference coming in the first half.

Senior F Chandler Parsons, who was quiet at points during the game, finished with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting with a team-high seven boards, while sophomore F Erik Murphy – Florida’s lone veteran reserve – was the team’s primary threat off the bench with eight points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Losing what was likely one of their toughest match-ups of the non-conference slate, UF will attempt to regroup as they take on North Carolina A&T at home on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on Sun Sports.

POST-GAME NOTES & QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/15: Donovan, players speak about Ohio State

No. 9/10 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional material from some of Florida’s players can also be found below.

FIRST PHYSICAL TEST COMES IN GAME TWO

Donovan has made it a point over the last two seasons to schedule tough opponents early both to increase strength of schedule and test his team. That is why the No. 4/5 Ohio State Buckeyes are heading to Gainesville, FL, on Tuesday for a rekindling of a recent rivalry.

“This is a great test and a great opportunity for both [teams]. One because it is so early in the season, it is the second game for both of us right now,” Donovan said Monday. “There’s a long way to go, you find out a lot more about your team in these situations. There will probably be some things in the game that we will need to get better at improve on. They’ll probably say the same thing. There’s no question we’re going against a physical frontcourt with [Dallas] Lauderdale, [Jared] Sullinger and [Deshaun] Thomas and that poses great challenges for our frontcourt as well to do the things we are talking about physically.”

But wouldn’t it be better for everyone involved if the game was a few weeks later? “Part of me really, really likes the fact that it is really this early,” Donovan continued. “The opportunity to play against a team clearly that returns four starters, they return guys that won a Big 10 Championship. They’re veterans and they add the best recruiting class in the country to their team. And Sullinger [is] arguably the best player in the country. […] Things are going to get exposed that you gotta get better at and sometimes its better off finding out those things now than it is later.”

YOUNG WILBEKIN COULD PAY DIVIDENDS

Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin had an impressive showing in his first regular season game, showcasing his poise, crisp passing and mature defense. Donovan raved about Wilbekin on Monday and hinted that he should see the court plenty this season.

“He’s really a disciplined kid, and when I say ‘disciplined,’ he really does the right things at the right time. When you talk about the discipline part of doing your job and doing the things you need to do, that’s what has really enabled him to come in and play,” he said. “His game will get better. As a coach, you always enjoy playing guys [from whom] you kind of know what you’re getting. I’ve been very, very impressed with him. I’ve been impressed with his toughness, and I’ve been impressed with his stamina.”

MACKLIN’s KNEE ACTING UP

Asked about the health of redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, Donovan confirmed that he is dealing with some knee issues – specifically tendinitis and bone spurs. “He’s been in and out of practice here the last couple of days. He’s dealing with some knee issues; it’s nothing that s going to prevent him from playing [Tuesday],” he said. “Going forward that is a concern for me. We’ll have to wait and see, but he’s been battling it now for the last week to 10 days. It’s definitely probably affected him some, but I’ve always been the believer when you step across the lines and put the jersey on, you have to go out there and play.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Florida grounds UNCW 77-60 in season opener

For the 20th consecutive time, No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (1-0) won their regular season opener, defeating the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (0-1) 77-60 Friday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Senior forward Chandler Parsons led the way for Florida with 16 points in the contest.

Tied at six early, the Gators missed six consecutive wide-open shots and turned the ball over five times, allowing the Seahawks to go up 11-6. Fed up with the performance of his starters, head coach Billy Donovan made a mass substitution that paid off when freshmen guard Casey Prather and point guard Scottie Wilbekin made back-to-back hustle plays to knot the score at 11.

Florida started pulling away from there, taking a 37-26 lead over UNC-Wilmington at the half when Parsons concluded an 8-0 run with a buzzer-beating put-back layup. He scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the first half, while Wilbekin and junior PG Erving Walker each had three steals.

Read the rest of the Friday’s game story along with post-game news & notes…
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2010-11 Florida Gators basketball season preview

Finally returning to the NCAA Tournament after back-to-back appearances in the NIT, the No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball team is back in the preseason top 10 and looking to return to the glory it experienced just a few short years ago. With forward Dan Werner now graduated and five new freshmen in the fold looking to make an impact, head coach Billy Donovan hopes to get back to his winning ways.

STARTING FIVE:

PG Erving Walker – junior, 5’8”, 171 lbs.
2009 STATS: 12.6 PPG – 4.9 APG – 3.3 RPG – .339 FG% – .347 3P% – 32.9 MPG
A spark plug who often appears to prefer shooting and penetrating to passing, Walker was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team two years ago and the preseason All-SEC second team this year. He had trouble performing at a high level last season partially due to the lack of depth behind him on the bench. Donovan has noted that Walker’s shot selection, stroke and defense have all improved over the summer. He plans to keep him fresh by utilizing a number of other players at point guard during games and hopes that Walker will improve his ball handling, court vision and willingness to dish the ball – three things he needed to work on at this point last year.

G Kenny Boynton – sophomore, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
2009 STATS: 14.0 PPG – 2.7 APG – 2.6 RPG – .376 FG% – .294 3P% – 32.9 MPG
A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Boynton was the pride of the Gators’ 2009 recruiting class. Quick both with and without the ball, Boynton is highly competitive and athletic with the ability to play either backcourt position. He led Florida in points and was second in minutes played (Walker) in his first season, catching on fire in his final two games scoring a combined 50 points on 16-of-33 shooting while also going 9-of-18 from downtown. He can get his shot off at will, whether it be a pull up jumper, deep three-pointer, floater down the lane or penetrating layup. Boynton is also a tough defender who is strong with quick feet laterally but, like Walker, was gassed late in games last season due to lack of depth. Also similar to Walker, Donovan is impressed with Boynton’s improved shot selection and decision making this offseason. He was honored with a preseason All-SEC second team nomination this year.

This post contains 1,818 words previewing the season. You have already made it this far, so you might as well continue reading the rest…after the break!
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11/10: Donovan, players speak before first game

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional material from some of Florida’s players can also be found below.

SECOND HALF STARTS STILL A CONCERN

After the Gators’ second preseason game, Donovan was emphatic that the way they team performed in the second half against Georgetown College was not acceptable. Ever since, he has made a point in practice to ensure the team knows it cannot come out of halftime lackadaisical – especially against much better opponents.

“It definitely got addressed and something that we really talked about. We had better practices from that. It’s not so much the handling of expectations as much as it is the handling of prosperity – when you get recognized, when you get attention, when people talk favorably about you, positively about it,” Donovan said. “If you look at the first half of the Florida Tech game, if you look at the first half of the Georgetown game, those teams are shooting 33-34 percent from the field, they’re shooting 22 percent from the three-point line, and we’re forcing about 14 turnovers in the half.

“Now you take the second half of both those two games and you put together a 40-minute stat sheet – 20 minutes of each half – and we’re giving up 54 percent from the field and 42 percent from the three-point line. Can you play with a lead? Can you play when its 44-19? Can you understand, maturity-wise, that Georgetown is going to come out of the locker room and start the second half with a high level of intensity? They’re down by 25 points! If they were in that situation, I would hope they’d do the same thing! It’s a mentality that you have to have where the first four minutes starts in the second half and you send a message to that team that, ‘We’re not letting you back in the game.’”

Senior forward Chandler Parsons reiterated Donovan’s message, explaining that it has hit home with the team. “We don’t want to let up. Up 20, down 20, we want to come out and play our game, play with energy,” he said. “Especially when we have a team up – at home – we don’t want to take our foot off the gas. We want to keep going and keep trying to extend the lead.”

WILBEKIN INJURY UPDATE

Though Florida’s depth in the frontcourt has been seriously strengthened, it is pretty much freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin or bust behind junior Erving Walker. Injuring his neck against Florida Tech, Wilbekin missed UF’s second exhibition game and finally returned to limited practice on Tuesday. Donovan expects him to be active for Friday’s game after a full-contact practice on Thursday even though Wilbekin’s conditioning has suffered because he has not been able to run or work out until this week. “It was so painful that he could not lift his arms over his shoulders,” Donovan said.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Florida basketball 2010 preseason wrap-up

Joining ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive for the 2010-11 basketball season is new correspondent Malik Grady. An OGGOA reader since the very beginning and Florida Gators basketball observer for two decades, Malik will be contributing his unique views and educated takes on head coach Billy Donovan’s squad throughout the season. Please do us a favor and welcome him into the fold after reading his first offering, a review of Florida’s two preaseason games this year.

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Correspondent

BALL HANDLERS

Observers only had five minutes to evaluate freshman Scottie Wilbekin before he was injured, during which time he managed a pair of assists and two steals. He has good size for the point and looked quick with the ball, though he seemed to get a little “high school cute” with it. Last year, after the preseason, then-freshman Nimrod Tishman rarely played again, but Wilbekin seems to be much more in Donovan’s plans considering the three-guard lineup the Gators have practiced with at times.

Junior Erving Walker, last year’s starter at the point, showed a bit of the good news/bad news he did at times last season. He led the team in assists (13 in the two games) but also had six turnovers while simultaneously forcing shots at times. Donovan said he’s seen improvement overall in Walker’s decision making, and he is improving defensively in the press where his stature is actually a benefit.

Fellow junior Kyle McClanahan saw a total of 17 minutes in the preseason but showed some limitations after managing four turnovers in six minutes in his first game and no assists in either. Donovan has expressed confidence in him at times though, so it’s possible he could work himself into emergency duty.

Read the rest of Malik’s preseason wrap-up and prepare for OGGOA‘s 2010-11 season preview (published Thursday)…after the break!
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Gators defeat Tigers 88-62 in exhibition finale

No. 9/11 Florida Gators men’s basketball finished its short exhibition season undefeated, taking down the Georgetown College Tigers 88-62 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, on Wednesday night.

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton led the way for the Gators with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting (4-of-9 from downtown) with three assist, while junior point guard Erving Walker was effective on both ends of the floor, scoring 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting with seven assists and six steals. Senior forward Chandler Parsons contributed to the effort with nine points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

As a team, Florida shot 55.9 percent (33-of-59) from the floor and led 44-19 going into halftime. The Gators started the second half with a lack of intensity and focus likely due to their large lead, allowing the Tigers to score 43 points in the final 20 minutes.

“Top 10 teams don’t hold a team in the first half to 32 percent from the field, 14 percent from the three-point line and then look at the second half, defensively, [and not do the same],” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “To give up 53 percent in the second half from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line, to me, is the reason why I don’t believe we’re a top-10 team. Because of that right there. Top 10 teams, to me, don’t do those things.”

Florida officially begins the 2010-11 season on Friday, Nov. 12 when they take on UNC-Wilmington at 7 p.m. The game will be available live on Sun Sports

Other stat lines:
– Senior F Alex Tyus – eight points (4-of-7), two assists
– Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin – 10 points (5-of-6), four rebounds
– Sophomore G Erik Murphy – seven points (3-of-5), three rebounds, two steals
– Freshman C Patric Young – seven points (2-of-4), three rebounds, two blocks
– Freshman G Casey Prather – four points (1-of-5), three reb., two blocks, two steals
– Freshman F Will Yeguete – six points (1-of-1), three rebounds

DONOVAN’s POST-GAME QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/2: Donovan, players on second exhibition

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional material from Florida’s starting five can also be found below.

TYUS’ COMMITMENT NEVER IN DOUBT

Though senior forward Alex Tyus nearly transferred after his sophomore season and tested NBA Draft waters last year before ultimately deciding to return to the team, Donovan never questioned his commitment to the University of Florida at any time.

“After his sophomore year a lot of it had to do with the position and where he was having to play. I don’t think it was necessarily any ill feelings towards Florida or myself,” Donovan said. “It was probably this thing that was ingrained into him early on in his career by a lot of different people that he had to play this position in order to become this kind of player. It was really the furthest thing from the truth, and it really was not reality.

“I’ve never really questioned his commitment. Alex is a great kid, he wants to win, I think he has a good relationship with his teammates. It was probably a product of him being younger and getting advice and opinions from some people that maybe really didn’t understand what the reality was of some of the situations.”

MACKLIN NEEDS TO STEP UP AS A LEADER

With so many freshmen set to play significant minutes coming off the bench this season, Donovan has been impressed with the leadership shown by two of the team’s seniors – Tyus and Chandler Parsons. However, when it comes to redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, Donovan sees room for improvement and attributes the gap to Macklin never being in a similar situation before.

“Vernon in particular has got do a better job leading this time of year for us. He’s got to understand the big picture in terms of what we’re trying to do. Vernon has got to prove that he can lead under duress, under adversity, under difficult circumstances,” he said. “I’ve tried to create some adversity in practices for him and for our team to see how they will respond. I don’t think Vernon has responded like I would like to see him respond. He’s done a great job up to this point. He’s played well and he’s worked hard. He himself has got to be able to handle and be a calming force in a lot of ways for our team. There’s no doubt in my mind that he can do that.”

Macklin understands what Donovan is looking for and hopes to satisfy his coach’s request. “I’m a vocal person, I just got to not let little things get to me and not have them affect the way I still be vocal in practice,” he said. “If something is not going my way, I still got to be a vocal person.”

WILBEKIN INJURY UPDATE

Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who had been impressing Donovan daily in practice, strained his neck in the Gators’ first exhibition game and has not practiced since. He will sit out Florida’s exhibition finale against Georgetown College. “We’re hoping to have him back maybe by the weekend,” Donovan said. “[That’s] maybe a little bit on the positive side, maybe [he’ll practice] a little bit later than that.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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