Basketball improves to 7-0 with win over Rattlers

By Adam Silverstein
December 1, 2009

No. 13/17 Florida Gators basketball (7-0) allowed the Florida A&M Rattlers (0-8) to get off to a hot start but pulled away in the second half to win 80-59 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Tuesday night. Senior forward Dan Werner led the Gators with one of the best games of his career, scoring a team-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting (4-of-6 from three) and a team-high nine rebounds in the contest (though he had five turnovers). Four Florida players finished the game in double figures including junior F Alex Tyus (15), redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin (14) and sophomore point guard Erving Walker (10).

The Rattlers shot almost 49 percent from the field in the first half, taking advantage of sloppy defense and keeping the Gators’ lead within four points at halftime. Florida pulled away immediately after the break with a 23-4 run to start the second half. They never looked back, shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc.

“Between turnovers, quick shots and some defensive lapses, we didn’t play well for about 20 minutes – and played pretty well for about 20 minutes,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought our patience on the offensive end, especially in transition with some of the passes we tried to make, it was almost like we diffused our own energy with some of the decisions we made when we had a chance to get on a roll.”

Sophomore guard/forward Ray Shipman started the game over prized freshman Kenny Boynton, though Donovan did not provide a reason for the switch. Shipman took advantage of the opportunity and recorded a team-high four steals with six points while Boynton went 0-for-7 from the field; however, the freshman did dish out a career-high nine assists and earned two steals by playing hard all night.

Macklin, who also finished with seven rebounds, was able to use his size and strength to his advantage all night. He dominated Florida A&M with dunks, finger rolls and post moves, even throwing up a double clutch layup that got the Rowdy Reptiles excited. All ten Gators who saw court time scored, including Israeli freshman PG Rod Tishman who put up the first points of his career on two free throws.

Florida basketball improved to 11-0 all-time against the Rattlers and are 29-0 against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Gators will take a short trip to Jacksonville, FL, on Friday for their next game against the Jacksonville Dolphins (0-4) at 7 p.m.

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