Although head coach Billy Donovan seemed weary of his Florida Gators basketball team’s packed schedule when he spoke earlier in the week, his squad appeared to be just fine in Baton Rouge (La.) on Saturday, as the Gators defeated the LSU Tigers 74-52 in their second game of SEC play.
The Gators struggled offensively for much of the first half as the team went for a combined 12-of-33 shooting to open up their first in-conference road game. After a Patric Young free throw, senior guard Kenny Boynton nailed a three-pointer to push the score to 4-0, but rather than being a sign of a potential strong offensive showing, the Gators would struggle for much of the half before pulling away towards the end on the heels of a 10-1 run.
With senior guard Mike Rosario out of the contest with a sprained ankle, junior Scottie Wilbekin picked up the slack for Florida, pacing UF with seven points in the first half. Junior forward Casey Prather — who received his second straight start —chipped in six for Florida, but a left leg injury with just over a minute to play ended his day early, as he limped off the court and would not return to action.
The second half would start off completely different for the Gators, as they would start off with a 21-7 run. After quiet starts in the first half, both Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton would come to life in the second with Boynton quickly scoring five points including his second three-pointer. Shortly after Boynton’s score Murphy would hit his first three of the game, officially signaling a scoring run for the Gators.
Florida would continue to push their lead, and by the 12-minute mark led the Tigers by 25 points. However, the Tigers would not go away quietly. Building off of three consecutive Florida turnovers, the Tigers would go on a 12-0 run to cut UF’s lead to 14, bringing the crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center back to life.
With the Tigers threatening and the Gators in need of a score, it was Murphy who decided to help put away LSU as he nailed his second three of the game, hushing the frenzied crowd and allowing UF to again take control of the game.
At that point, the Gators wouldn’t look back, as they would go on an 8-0 run and eventually put away the game for good.
Boynton would lead all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Young and Murphy would have great days inside for Florida, finishing with 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Gators now turn their attention to another SEC road game as they will take on Texas A&M in College Station (Tx.) on Thursday. Florida will have a challenge on their hands as the Aggies (12-2) officially announced their entry into the SEC by upsetting the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.