Little big man comes up big vs. Rebels

You could call him Little Big Man. At just 5-foot-8, it’s tough to visualize Erving Walker taking over a game. But when he comes out in burst of energy and things are clicking, Walker darts around the floor like a whirling dervish, wreaking havoc on his opponent.

They could also call him Freddie Kilowatt, because when the competitive juices start flowing, the junior guard from New York sends a charge of electricity through the arena.

Billy Donovan sees Walker “get that look on is face” and knows that the juice is coming. He only worries that because of his outgoing energy that Walker might get overly tired.

Sometimes the juice can short circuit Walker and send him off on an out-of-control tangent. Because he does everything so fast and it looks so much worse — or so much better – when it comes in bunches.

A good bunch can be a think to behold, as it was Saturday night at the O’Connel Center when Walker was on a mission to lead his team to victory in its opening game of Southeastern Conference play with a 77-71 win over Ole Miss.

It proved to be a bit of a shootout between Walker and Mississippi’s brilliant Chris Warren, both of whom led their teams with 20. Except that Walker had 13 in the second half and Warren scored all 20 of his.

Most importantly, when they needed Freddie Kilowatt, Walker came through with a steal or an assistant or three-pointer at just the right time as Florida staved off the Rebels, who came storming back to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit. Terrence Henry’s bucket with just under 10 minutes put his team ahead of the Gators, 53-51.

This would be the big test for Billy Donovan’s team, which has shown a propensity for giving up leads this season. Walker’s three-pointer put Florida on top, 57-53, with 8:41 to play, but it was tied at 59 with 6:44 to play.

Enter Little Big Man, who not only made a critical bucket and steal, but also his 15th point to put him over the 1,000 mark — only the 47th player in Florida history to accomplish that feat.

The big shot was a runner in the lane, about 10 feet, and it put the Gators on top for good, 63-61, as Walking chalked up his 15th of 20 points.

There wasn’t much made of Walker’s milestone, although the PA announcer did bring it up during halftime. His coaches or his teammates didn’t say anything or offer kudos. All Erving talked about in the post-game was the ability of Florida to stave off the run of Ole Miss and “hang together.”

The tie goes to the runner in baseball and the tie goes to the winner in hoops. So chalk this one up to Erving Walker over Chris Warren, whom Donovan feared would take over the game in the second half — and sort of did with his 20 points

Donovan doesn’t see Walker as a one-up kind of competitor, however, saying that “Erving probably would say, ‘OK, you got 20 in the second half – but I won.’ He’s got that kind of disposition. He likes that kind of competitiveness and when it gets amped up competitively, he gets into those sort of bursts where he starts doing things and making things happen.”

As for Walker surpassing the 1,000-point plateau, Donovan joked about how it will be remembered by the competitive, cocky junior guard.

“That’ll be something that he’ll talked to his kids (about) when he’s forty,” said Donovan. “He’ll say he left here as the all-time leading scorer, in his mind, and a couple of guys passed him after he graduated.”

SHORT SHOTS: It may not seem like Chandler Parsons is posting big numbers — and you look at his 12th career double-double Monday night of 18 points and 12 rebounds, and that he has now passed Taurean Green and Nick Calathes on the all-time scoring list . . . Parsons also went into Saturday night’s game against Ole Miss with 39 rebounds in his last four games, then added 17 points and 7 rebounds in the 77-71 win over the Rebels … The Gators have now scored 70 or more points for the third straight game for the first time ever … Kenny Boynton scored a four-point play for the third straight game … He made seven in his career at Florida.