Gators start slow then fly past Owls 79-66

By Adam Silverstein
November 23, 2010

Head coach Billy Donovan has criticized the No. 14/16 Florida Gators (4-1) for the poor way they have performed in the second half of games since the season began. His message will likely be different Tuesday evening considering Florida struggled out of the gate but pulled away in the latter part of the contest to defeat the Florida Atlantic Owls (3-3) 79-66 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Shooting only 41.4 percent in the first half, Florida took a 34-32 lead in the closing seconds after sophomore guard Kenny Boynton put in a fastbreak layup and freshman center Patric Young contributed a free throw.

Though they out-rebounded Florida Atlantic 22-14 and committed five less fouls in the period, UF allowed FAU to shoot 46.7 percent from the field and provided them with some wide open looks from downtown.

Boynton and senior forward Alex Tyus led the way offensively for the Gators in the first half, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively. Tyus also grabbed five rebounds in the early portion of the contest.

Florida would keep its lead the entire second half, going on a short 8-1 run including a mid-range jumper and layup off a steal by junior point guard Erving Walker to jump ahead 47-39 with 12:08 to play.

Finally pulling way, Florida used a trey from senior F Chandler Parsons to take a game-high 13 point lead with 2:46 remaining. They would go up-and-down the remainder of the game to win by the same margin.

Boynton (21 points) and Tyus (19 points) stayed hot in the second half, and Walker scored 11 of his 14 points in the latter period to go along with six rebounds, four assists and five clutch steals.

Hobbled with a bad knee, redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin got off to a slow start but scored five points and pulled down 11 rebounds while blocking three shots. Freshman F Will Yeguete made the most of his eight minutes off the bench by grabbing six boards and getting to the line three times while injecting some energy into the team.

Parsons was scoreless in the first half with two turnovers but found his legs late in the contest to finish with eight points and six rebounds without giving the ball up again.

Gainesville native G Greg Gantt was dynamite from downtown for the Owls, going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and 6-of-12 from the field for a FAU-high 17 points.

Both teams shot 33.3 percent from three and in the low-40s from the field, but Florida earned the rebounding advantage 44-28 and committed five fewer fouls.

The Gators’ sluggish start was somewhat understandable seeing as Tuesday’s contest was their fourth game in eight days, and their resilience coming out of the locker room at halftime was certainly a sight for Donovan’s sore eyes.

Florida will now get four days of rest before traveling to Tallahassee, FL, on Sunday to face Florida State at 7:30 p.m. The game will air live on Fox Sports Florida.

POST-GAME NOTES & QUOTES (After the break…)

Opening statement: “They did some things in the first half offensively that was a little bit different. Our guys didn’t see some of that stuff. I thought we adjusted pretty well and our guys did a much, much better job defensively in the second half guarding. There was a lot of mistakes we made in the game in terms of basketball decisions that we really need to get better at. Since the Ohio State game, we just have not practiced in over a week right now. We desperately need to get back to getting on the floor because there are so many corrections and things that we want to do. But when you have this amount of games in this short period of time, [you are concerned about health and preparation]. You’re not getting a chance to really work on yourselves, you’re more spending time preparing for the next game.”

On Florida Atlantic’s play: “This was an emotional game for these kids and they played hard. I thought their kids played great. They played a terrific game. I thought this was the best game FAU had played up to this point in time based on watching them on film.”

On Tyus and Macklin struggling early: “The way we told Alex and Vernon to guard, in a lot of ways, was wrong. It wasn’t the right way to guard it. They made some adjustments and tweaks inside their offense that exploited the way we were guarding. It really put Alex and Vernon in a tough spot. Alex and Vernon I thought adjusted very, very well in the second half. Vernon rebounded the ball much better in the second half. He did some very, very good things.”

On if he is disappointed in how the team is performing: “I don’t know if ‘disappointed’ is the right word. If you’re going to look at our team and look out our ranking and compare our team against our ranking, I would say we’re very disappointing. But I didn’t rank us. So I’m not disappointed in our team at all. We have a long way to go to be considered an elite team. A lot of times, when I talk about the rankings and I really talk truthfully about who we are – a group of guys that are five returning starters that was 9-7 in the SEC, a group of guys that have never won more than nine games in three years in the SEC, a group of guys that have never gotten past the second round in the SEC Tournament and a group of guys that has never won a NCAA Tournament game. That’s who we are. We’re trying to take the next step.”

On making smarter decisions: “Our basketball intelligence in terms of making decisions – on the fast break, time and score four minutes to go, decisions that we make, defensively we’re doing a pretty good job [then guys foul opponents before plays start] – our basketball IQ has got to get better. Where we’re at and where I’d like to see us be? We have a long, long way to go.”

On Parsons not being aggressive: “If you want freedom then there needs to be a level of accountability and responsibility. I was on Chandler in the game, and I think probably his aggressiveness was taken away by me as a coach. It really was not him, it was more me. I need to show him film so he can understand where he needs to get better because I want him to be aggressive and I want him to attack. You can’t be like kamikaze attack crazy and the risk and reward is killing your team. He’s got to learn how to be aggressive and how to attack in a way that’s going to be beneficial for our team. We need him playing loose and free and confident. It’s like I used to tell Jason Williams all the time, ‘You can go behind your back, off your elbow, off your kneecap on the break to a guy – and that’s great. But the minute it doesn’t work and you turn it over, you’re coming out of the game.’”

On Yeguete’s play: “He’s going to be a really, really good player. Right now his offense needs to get better in terms of his handling and passing, and that will get better because he’s got that ability. When the ball goes up on the glass, he’s just around it. He’s tipping and he’s active. He’s responsible and he’s reliable. He’s going to be a very, very good player, and he’s a guy I think can really help this team.”

One Comment

  1. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I was quite pleased with how they played in the 2nd half. Thank god they’ll have 4 days of well deserved rest before they play the Noles.

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