11/29: Florida vs. Marquette post-game report; Patric Young responds to coming off bench

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball (6-0) blew out the Marquette Golden Eagles (5-2) in the 2012 SEC/BIG EAST Challenge at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Thursday. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 2-2 all-time against Marquette and 17-10 against Big East teams under Donovan (1-2 in the regular season games played as part of a challenge or invitational).
» The Gators’ defense continues to dominate. UF has only given up 26 or more points in a single have twice in 12 halves played this season.
» Six Florida players scored in double figures, the most this season.
» The Gators are 31-1 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» Marquette reserves were averaging 35 points and 22 rebounds per game; those players registered just 19 points and five boards on Thursday.
» Florida has 16 assists on 28 made baskets and turned the ball over just eight times. UF forced 14 turnovers in the game.
» The Gators won the rebounding margin 37-23 and shot well in all three phases of the game including 50.9 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from downtown and 85.0 percent from the free throw line.
» 20 NBA scouts were in attendance, according to UF.

PLAYER NOTES

» Freshman guard Michael Frazier II came off the bench to score a team- and career-high 17 points. He made five treys in eight attempts and was 6-of-9 from the floor.
» Junior center Patric Young came off the bench in both halves but still led the way with a game-high 10 rebounds. He matched a career-best with six offensive boards and finished with a double-double as he posted 10 points.
» Redshirt senior G Mike Rosario, junior forward Will Yeguete and junior F Casey Prather scored 11 points each. Yeguete added seven rebounds and a block while Rosario and Prather combined for six boards and three dimes. Senior F Erik Murphy also chipped in 10 points.
» Senior G Kenny Boynton notched a game-high five assists while only turning the ball over once but struggled to find the bottom of the net. He went 2-for-11 from the field and 0-for-5 from downtown to finish with just six points. Boynton also passed Eddie Shannon for sixth all-time on the school’s career minutes list.
» G Vander Blue was the only Marquette player that truly came to play. He scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and was the only one on his team to score more than six points.

Read the rest of what Donovan had to say…after the break!
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No. 7 Florida Gators blow out Marquette 82-49

Hosting the Marquette Golden Eagles (5-2) on Thursday evening as part of the 2012 SEC/BIG EAST Challenge, the No. 7 Florida Gators (6-0) put together another complete performance, running the visitors out of the building with a big 82-49 victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida improved to 31-1 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game. The Gators had six players score in double figures and used their stellar defense to hold an advantage all game long, never giving up a lead that appeared to increase with each passing minute.

Both teams were cold out of the gate with each going 3-for-11 from the field to start the game. Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario scored six of Florida’s first 10 points, but it was back-to-back threes from freshman G Michael Frazier II that fueled a 13-4 run and propelled the Gators ahead of the Golden Eagles 23-13 midway through the half.

Frazier got hot again just before halftime, once again nailing consecutive treys as part of an 8-0 run that put UF on top of MU by 16 with a minute to play until the break. Florida senior forward Erik Murphy followed suit by scoring five-straight as part of a 9-0 run that opened the second half and gave the Gators a 23-point lead.

Florida eventually increased its advantage to a game-high 31 points on the fifth trey of the game from Frazier as UF continued to put the pressure on defensively.

Junior center Patric Young, who was removed from the starting lineup prior to the game because head coach Billy Donovan said he was displaying a poor attitude during practice, was understandably motivated and played like he was on fire. Young finished with a double-double including a game-high 10 rebounds (matching a career-high with six on the offensive glass) and also registered 10 points and three big blocks.

Leading the way for the Gators was Frazier, whose five three-pointers made up most of his team- and career-high 17 points. Rosario (11), Murphy (10), junior F Will Yeguete (11) and junior F Casey Prather (11) also scored in double-figures. Yeguete contributed seven boards and also had an impressive swat early in the contest.

Senior G Kenny Boynton had an off night overall, going just 2-for-11 from the field and 0-for-5 from downtown for six points in a team-high 34 minutes. He did, however, dish a game-high five assists while only turning the ball over once.

The Golden Eagles did not get much going overall but did benefit from a superb performance from G Vander Blue, who finished 8-of-14 for a game-high 20 points.

Florida outshot Marquette from the field, beyond the arc and at the charity stripe. The Gators hit 17-of-20 free throws and held the rebounding edge 37-23. Despite the Golden Eagles being one of the best bench scoring teams in the nation, UF had the edge there 40-19 and also outscored MU in the paint 32-28.

Now having opened the season 6-0 for just the second time since 2007-08, Florida will get six days off before travelling to Tallahassee, FL for an in-state rivalry game with Florida State on Dec. 5.

Animated GIF created for OnlyGators.com by photekxl.

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Gameday: (7) Florida Gators vs. Marquette

Event: SEC/BIG EAST Challenge
Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPN2/ESPN2HD (Dave Pasch, Fran Fraschilla)
SiriusXM: 113/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 7 FLORIDA GATORS MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Buzz Williams
Record: 5-0 Record: 5-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11 | O/U 137.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 1-2 all-time against Marquette, earning its first victory just last season in the Sweet 16 round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. UF is 16-10 all-time against the Big East under Donovan but 0-2 in scheduled non-conference regular season games against the league with a pair of losses to Syracuse (2009, 2011).
» Four Gators starters are averaging double figures.
» Florida has held three of its five opponents to 45 points or fewer. The Gators have only given up 26 points or more in a single half twice so far this campaign.
» UF dominated in its season opener, holding Alabama State to just nine first-half points and setting a school record in the shot clock era for fewest allowed in a half.
» Florida is 30-1 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» 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 1-0 in such games.
» Florida is second nationally in scoring defense (48.4 points) and ninth in both scoring margin (+23.8 points per game) and field goal percentage defense (.337).
» The Gators are 174th nationally in assists, dishing just 13 per game.
» The Golden Eagles are ranked in the top-25 nationally in both assists (17.7) and overall field goal percentage (.491).
» Marquette has received huge contributions from its bench this season. Reserves are averaging 35 points and 22 rebounds per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from downtown.
» The Golden Eagles have 10 players averaging double-digit minutes.
» Marquette is 75-7 since 2008-09 when out-shooting its opponent from the field.

Read the rest of the Florida-Marquette preview…more information after the break!

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11/27: Wilbekin still a reserve, Prather protected

With the No. 7 Florida Gators set to play a tough opponent in the Marquette Golden Eagles on Thursday as part of the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Tuesday to discuss his team’s 5-0 start and how it has been playing so far this season.

NO CHANGES TO STARTING FIVE

Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin may have had a career game coming off the bench against UCF, but his performance in that game or anything he has done in practice has not led Donovan to decide that inserting him back in the starting lineup is the best thing for the team at this time.

Though Donovan said Wilbekin is no longer being punished for the offense that got him suspended – and said offense will not restrict his playing time or anything else going forward – he has simply not seen a good reason to make a lineup change at this time.

“I’m not worried about that right now. There’s nothing that he needs to do. I look at things a little bit differently,” he explained. “I think there needs to be, right now, just a level of appreciation for someone like Will Yeguete, who has basically got put into a very difficult situation with Scottie’s suspension.”

Wilbekin being suspended, Donovan decided to move senior guard Kenny Boynton over to point guard and redshirt senior G Mike Rosario (who spent the summer learning to play the small forward spot) back to his more natural position of two-guard, opening up a spot in the lineup that Florida was not ready to fill.

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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Florida vs. Marquette in SEC/BIG EAST Challenge

ESPN officially announced the field for the 2012 SEC/BIG EAST Challenge on Friday, and the Florida Gators are set to play the Marquette Golden Eagles at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Nov. 29 as part of the three-day event.

Undergoing a format change in 2011, the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge now features 12 games in on-campus arenas rather than four total games at two neutral sites, which is how the former SEC/Big East Invitational was formatted from 2007-10.

The 2012 event will last from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 with six games played at the home arenas of teams from each conference. Neither the SEC nor the Big East, which have expanded to 14 and 17 teams respectively, will have all of their schools competing.

Florida is a combined 0-2 since the SEC and Big East began squaring off in 2007, falling 85-73 to Syracuse in Tampa, FL on Dec. 10, 2009 and losing again to the Orange 72-68 in Syracuse, NY on Dec. 2, 2011.

UF is 1-2 all-time against Marquette after defeating MU for the first time in school history 68-56 in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Phoenix, AZ on March 23.

The Gators are already scheduled to participate in two additional in-season competitions: the renamed Global Sports Main Event and the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. UF will host Alabama State (Nov. 11), Savannah State (Nov. 20) and Central Florida (Nov. 23) as part of the former event (one additional game will be scheduled) but does not yet have an opponent for the OBBC on Dec. 29 in Sunrise, FL.

Florida is also set to host Wisconsin on Nov. 14, Southeast Louisiana on Dec. 19 and Richmond at a to-be-determined date. The Gators will take on Florida State, Arizona and Yale on the road and will also face Kansas State in Kansas City, MO.

2012 SEC/BIG EAST Challenge
Nov. 29
Kentucky at Notre Dame
Florida vs. Marquette
South Carolina at St. John’s
LSU vs. Seton Hall

Nov. 30
Arkansas vs. Syracuse
Tennessee at Georgetown
Auburn vs. DePaul
Georgia at South Florida

Dec. 1
Alabama at Cincinnati
Vanderbilt vs. Villanova
Mississippi State at Providence
Mississippi vs. Rutgers

All games will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU as well as ESPN3.com.

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Gators discuss advancing to the Elite Eight

No. 7-seed Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan and guards freshman Bradley Beal and junior Kenny Boynton spoke after Thursday’s Sweet 16 victory over the No. 3-seed Marquette Golden Eagles about the hard-fought victory and advancing to the Elite Eight round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Florida will face No. 4-seed Louisville on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. live on CBS.

IT ALL STARTS WITH THE COACH

The Gators are experiencing a spectacular turnaround, no doubt, and while Beal and the team’s bench has been a large part of it, Donovan is certainly the catalyst for the change the team has undergone recently. Asked how he has gotten his team to adjust and do more this season, Donovan (like any good coach) gave his players all of the credit.

“We’ve got really good kids. When adversity hits during the course of the year, I’m not so sure they know exactly how to handle it,” he said. “I asked [Brad] one time, ‘What’s the most difficult part for you playing in college?’ He said, ‘Dealing with adversity and dealing with bad games because I didn’t have a lot of those in high school.’ Because he was always the best player on the floor. Even for Patric, too, the grind and having to come every single day. When you’re relied upon for the first time in your life by other players and a coaching staff and people, there’s a responsibility that comes with that. So when it doesn’t go well, a lot of times they don’t know how to handle it.

“Going through some of those adversities that they had to go through has forced them to kind of grow and mature. With Erik [Murphy], I told him at halftime, I think he was 0-5; I told him, ‘I want you to shoot it every time you’re open and if I see you not shooting the ball with confidence, I’m taking you out of the game. You have a responsibility to every guy in this room that when you shoot the ball, you got to expect it to go in. If it doesn’t, we’ll be fine.’ […] Just trying to push those guys into positions where they’re being forced to grow up. Everybody handles it differently.

“They are such good kids that they want to do well. Sometimes they just need some help to get through those difficult times.”

It doesn’t hurt that Donovan is an exceptional coach or – as Marquette head coach Buzz Williams put it – “He’s just class.” Williams continued, “He does it for the right reasons. I don’t think his ego gets in the way. You talk about a guy that has won two national championships and he’s only 46 years old. And he’s won over 400 games. And he’s won 28 games now in the NCAA Tournament. And he still talks to you and he still looks you in the eye and he says, ‘How ya doin’?’ I appreciate that.

“There’s a lot of guys in our business that don’t do that. Because sometimes they think they win because of who they are. I think he’s been raised in the business the right way, and I just have the utmost respect for him. I think he’ll be like some of the guys in our league – he’ll be in the hall of fame and still coach 10 more years. You know what I mean? I think he’ll be in the hall of fame before he’s 55 years old. There are very few of those guys, very few of those guys. I have great respect for who he is.”

BEAL’S EMERGENCE CONTINUES

Having learned to play more aggressively and no longer as concerned about getting in his teammates’ way, Beal has exploded over the last five games. He is averaging 17 points on 54 percent shooting (43 percent from downtown) with 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 blocks in the five games that have made up the 2012 postseason. His improved level of play is easily recognizable and obviously quite praiseworthy.

“Brad is really unique. He’s a great kid. Actually he’s a much better kid than he is a player, that will give you an idea what it is like coaching him,” Donovan said. “I had a hard time with him early in the year because I think when you come out of high school you automatically – as decorated as he was – there is this expectation not only for himself but people around him who know him and watched him play and think that he’s just going to step on this stage and just be this star.

“He struggled shooting the ball early in November and December and he didn’t handle it well. At times he could get a little moody and a little pouty. He just didn’t know how to handle it. I think he realized when he wasn’t shooting the ball well that there are other parts of his game he could step up and really impact the game with his driving, with his rebounding, with his assists. The one thing that’s great about him is he’s a total chemistry guy. I’ve been around a lot of really good players that they can make it all about themselves. He has great respect for the returning players. He doesn’t necessarily want to step on anybody’s toes. He’s very much aware of where his place is on the team. He never, ever is disrespectful to players.

“He’s got a great awareness as a young kid of what team chemistry is all about. I’d say he’s a great facilitator of team chemistry. He’s really very unique in that way. He’s got a great presence and a confidence in himself but it’s not an arrogance and an over-the-top where he actually views himself being better than someone else. Our guys, with him coming in, you can’t do anything else but love him because of the way he conducts himself.”

Beal agreed with the notion that Thursday as probably the best game of his UF career and explained how he has turned the corner recently. “Before the games, I’m aware of the stage. I get caught up in the moment or whatever. But once the ball is thrown in the air, I block everything out and just focus in on the game and what the team needs to do to win,” he said. I know it’s a big crowd and everything like that, but I just stay humble, stay grounded and focus on what the team needs to do. […] I had a lot of confidence in myself tonight as well as my teammates. I found ways to get open, just stayed aggressive and tried to make plays.”

On the other side of the court, Williams was very cognizant of Beal’s effectiveness and simply could not stop him during the contest. “I think he’s really good. Nothing against Erving Walker. Nothing against Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Patric Young. In a lot of ways, I think Bradley Beal is their swing vote because he’s so multi-versatile, talented, can guard multiple guys,” he said. “He plays multiple positions whether they’re small, whether they’re big. He can beat you off the bounce, using their ball screens; he can catch and shoot. I think he is their leading rebounder, isn’t he? I think he’s really good. I mean he missed two shots. That’s a heck of a line. Really good.”

BACK TO THE ELITE EIGHT

Florida may have found its way back to the Elite Eight for the second-straight season and fourth time since 2006, but Donovan has had to make a lot of changes from the team that made their run one year ago. He admitted that it has been “really hard” to get to this point in the season.

“Our team is totally different than it was a year ago,” he said. “We were such a long, big, experienced team with [Vernon] Macklin and [Alex] Tyus and [Chandler] Parsons all being seniors. Then we had Erving Walker, a junior, and we had some good young guys come off the bench that played spot minutes in Patric and Scottie [Wilbekin]. We’re a lot younger and a lot different and play a lot different than we did a year ago. It’s a great compliment to those guys and how hoard they’ve worked, the schedule that we’ve played, them wanting to learn and grow and get better. I’m very proud of them and very happy that we’ve been able to move on this far in the tournament.”

Donovan is not the only one pleased to be back to the Elite Eight. Boynton also expressed his delight in his team’s accomplishment and believes that a tough regular season prepared the Gators for this opportunity. “It means a lot. It goes to show the losses early in the season made us stronger,” he said. “Before the NCAA Tournament, we had seen every defense and offense there could be. Those losses fueled us to this point in time. We’re happy to be here.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on making sure the team drives the paint during the game: “We don’t have, per se, an offensive-dominant post player. I think Patric has gotten better and he’s made good growth and he’s improved. But he’s not that offensive player you can just dump the ball inside to him. When he gets great position, he’s an effective scorer. You still have to put pressure on at the basket – one to get to the free throw line and two to get yourself some easy baskets. Because of the way we can shoot the ball and space the floor, we’ve got to try to put the ball on the floor and get into the paint and create some help, which opens up maybe getting fouled, finishing at the basket and/or if there is a collapse we can kick out and knock down some open shots. We’ve got to have a paint presence.”

» Donovan on his former head coach, Louisville’s Rick Pitino: “Outside of my parents he’s been the most influential person in my life. I’m very thankful for the opportunities that he’s provided me as a player, as a coach, the relationship that we’ve shared for more than 25 years. When you’re in this profession, now for me more than 25 years, you have situations where former assistants [and coaches play each other]. The game is really about the players that are playing in the game, that are going to be competing on Saturday because both teams have earned the right to play. The competition part of it will never ever get in the way, for me, with our relationship ever.”

» Donovan on Florida’s bench: “I thought we were going to need to use our bench, especially in this game. […] That was encouraging that we could rely on them. […] With the injury to Will Yeguete and their roles all being kind of in flux so to speak as we tried to figure it out, those guys have really settled in to understanding what they need to do.”

» Beal on Murphy finding a “mean streak”: “Murphy’s just being aggressive on both ends of the floor. Coach is always on his butt about rebounding in practice. It’s just carrying over to the game. He’s doing a tremendous job for us just grabbing the ball and being strong with it, rebounding on both ends pretty well for us.”

» Boynton on weathering the run by Marquette: “After the steal on Erving, we knew that they could be back in the game easily. I think we buckled down, started taking care of the ball and told each other, whoever is at the free throw line, just knock down the free throws.”

» Beal on being assertive when shots aren’t falling: “Whenever you’re missing shots from the outside, you should just keep attacking the basket. If you’re wide open, of course coach wants us to take them, but you just have to be more aggressive and keep attacking the basket – start inside and come back outside.”

» Beal on the Gators’ bench: “Our bench did a tremendous job. Mike [Rosario] came off the bench and provided a lot of help on both ends of the floor. He had a big layup for us in the first half. Scottie is always doing a great job playing great defense, and Casey is always tremendous as well on the boards. Those three guys out there really contributed a lot tonight.”

» Williams on Florida’s bench: “That’s one of the reasons why they’re so potent. Bradley Beal plays more minutes than any of them and that’s because he can swing to the four if they’re playing small. We played Rosario when he was at Rutgers. He was a McDonald’s All-American. So when you have a McDonald’s All-American coming off the bench that speaks to your depth.”

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FOUR BITS: Haslem wins bet, Tebow’s choice?

1 » Teammates with the Miami Heat, power forward Udonis Haslem and guard Dwyane Wade made a friendly wager on Thursday night’s Sweet 16 match-up between the No. 7-seed Florida Gators and No. 3-seed Marquette Golden Eagles. Florida defeated Marquette 68-58 in Phoenix, AZ to advance to the Elite Eight; therefore, Wade will have to put a Gators license plate on his car for a year. You can watch Haslem and Wade discuss their bet in the clip below courtesy of WSVN 7.

The trash talking continued Friday, according to the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. Wade has already ordered the Gators license plate and will put it on the back of one of his cars; Haslem is trying to get him to put it on a new McClaren MP4-12C (price tag $230,000) that he received for his birthday. “Oh, he’s got to drive that,” Haslem told Winderman. “There’s no way, there’s no way he can’t drive a McClaren. It’s like a million-dollar car, too. I mean who’s putting that in a garage?” Haslem piled it on when the team met for practice on Friday. “U.D. made sure he made his mark,” forward LeBron James told the paper. “He came in with the Gator fight song this morning, played it on the bus, and he’s probably going to mess [with it] through the whole week.”

2 » Despite the fact that he was traded for to be a back-up quarterback and change-of-pace player, New York Jets signal caller Tim Tebow “sees a clear path to resuming his career as a starter” and supplanting Mark Sanchez, sources told the New York Daily News. That is perhaps the main reason why Tebow said going to New York over returning to Jacksonville (where most of his family and friends reside) was his preference. “They want me to come in and compete and get better as a quarterback and help the team any way possible,” Tebow said in a teleconference following his trade. “Whatever that role is, I will do my best. Every time I step on the field, I give my heart and soul.” The Daily News also notes that Tebow did not have the ability to pull the trigger on his destination, which is how both his and Denver Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway’s stories blend together.

The Broncos didn’t come to Tebow in the end and say: Okay Tim, where do you want to go? They had already solicited his opinion. […] Tebow was impressed the Jets hung in there when it looked like the deal was falling apart: It convinced him how much the Jets wanted him. […] Ultimately, Tebow felt the love coming from the Jets.

3 » Florida basketball was also well-represented Thursday night by Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, who registered team-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds to register the first double-double of his young career. Houston defeated Golden State 109-83 as Parsons saw 39 minutes of court time (eight more than the next Rockets player) and went 8-for-16 from the field (2-for-4 from downtown). He added four assists to his total and finished with a plus-minus of +21 in the game. Following the contest, Parsons spoke to NBA TV in an interview you can watch by clicking here.

4 » Former Gators defensive tackle Brad Culpepper recently told Orlando, FL radio that, while he was playing in the NFL, he was coached up on how to injure quarterbacks. “We practiced techniques to injure players,” he admitted. “We would dive on a mat and aim for the knee portion of a pad like it was the quarterback, and we would practice going at that and trying to bust the quarterback’s knee. You knock the quarterback out, you win the game. […] We practiced on interceptions – we didn’t care where the ball was – we were making a bee-line to wherever the quarterback was.” Read more or listen to the interview by clicking here.

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(7) Florida Gators advance to second-straight Elite Eight with 68-58 victory over (3) Marquette

The No. 7-seed Florida Gators (26-10) will compete for a Final Four berth for the second-straight season after advancing to the Elite Eight on the heels of a 68-56 victory over the No. 3-seed Marquette Golden Eagles (27-8) in the Sweet 16 round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ.

Competing in the West Region, Florida will face No. 4-seed Louisville (which defeated No. 1-seed Michigan State 57-44 in the previous game) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

The Gators were led, as they have been all postseason, by freshman guard Bradley Beal, who posted a game-high 21 points on extremely efficient shooting. Beal was 8-of-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc; he also grabbed six rebounds (two offensive), dished four assists, swiped two steals and registered two blocks.

Senior point guard Erving Walker and junior G Kenny Boynton each struggled with their shooting but combined to go 10-for-11 from the charity stripe. Walker and Boynton both scored 11 points and combined for seven boards, seven dimes and a pair of steals.

Marquette jumped ahead by five early as Florida started 2-for-9 from the field and UF junior forward Erik Murphy missed his first four shots. The Gators and Golden Eagles then jockeyed back-and-forth with impressive scoring stretches until Boynton tied the contest at 15 after completing a four-point play.

UF went on their second run of the half, a 7-0 stretch, as MU forward Jae Crowder went to the bench with his second foul. Sophomore PG Scottie Wilbekin drained a three after sophomore G/F Casey Prather scored four-straight points including a highlight twisting finish on an alley-oop by Boynton.

After falling behind three while being outscored 10-3 by the Golden Eagles, the Gators ended the first half on a 9-0 run lasting 3:47 to take a six-point lead into the break.

Florida extended that advantage to a game-high 14 points early in the second half as Murphy ended his cold streak (he started 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-5 from downtown) by draining a three with the shot clock winding down. Beal followed that up with his third trey of the game only to have Murphy find the bottom of the net again after he finished on a driving layup. The 8-0 run extended an impressive scoring stretch by the Gators to 21-4 including the nine-straight points they scored to end the first half.

Marquette was able to answer Florida as UF fell into a shooting drought lasting 4:07. The Gators went 0-for-6 from the field as the Golden Eagles scored six-straight points to cut their deficit to eight points. Florida’s tough shooting continued as the team went 2-for-11 with three turnovers since achieving their game-high lead, but the Gators began attacking the basket again and went back up 12, 56-44, with 4:54 left in the contest.

MU refused to relent, however, scoring seven-straight points (including five by G Todd Mayo) to cut UF’s lead to six points with 3:20 remaining. Walker and Crowder traded threes to keep the Gators’ lead at six, but Boynton hit five of six free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory for Florida.

Though Murphy had a tough shooting night with just seven points while going 3-of-13 from the field and 1-for-8 from three, he registered a season-high and game-high 10 rebounds (one short of his career-best). The Gators added 11 bench points (all scored in the first half) and six from sophomore center Patric Young, who did not get the ball much but cradled nine boards including a game-high five off the offensive glass.

Crowder led the Golden Eagles with 15 points and the team’s leading scorer, G Darius Johnson-Odom, posted just 14. Both players went just 5-of-15 from the field and Marquette as a team shot just 30.8 percent from the floor.

UF won the rebounding margin 39-34 and had 15 assists on 24 made baskets. The Gators also hit 86.7 percent of their free throws and registered six blocks on the evening.

Florida will advance to face Louisville at 4:30 p.m. on CBS in what will be the seventh career meeting between Donovan and his former head coach Rick Pitino. Donovan is 0-6 all-time against Pitino including 0-2 since he took over the Louisville program.

Photo Credit: Chris Carlson/Associated Press

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