UF blasts Jackson State in opener

With 19 points apiece, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario led the No. 8 Gators to a commanding 99-59 victory in their season opener against Jackson State. The Gators scored early and often with five different players finishing with double figures in scoring.

Three-point shooting, the focal point in the exhibition win over Catholic University, was again one of the keys for the Gators in the win.

Mike Rosario led the Gators, connecting on five of his seven three-point opportunities.  As a team, the Gators finished the game, shooting 13 of 30 from behind the three-point line.

The emergence of Mike Rosario, who sat out last season after transferring from Rutgers, has been a bright spot thus far. Rosario finished his first career game for Florida with a pair of assists and rebounds to go along with his 19 points.

“Mike shot the ball very, very well tonight,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He did some things that helped our team.”

He even had his second flashy pass in as many games. Something Rosario chalks up to his “[New] Jersey flavor.”

Another notable addition to the Gators lineup this season, Bradley Beal, had a relatively quiet night. Donovan said that Beal is someone who can be extremely productive even on nights when he might go under the radar.

“Brad has a great pace to his game,” Donovan said. “He is not a high-volume scorer, he does it quietly.”

Beal himself only connected on one of his six three-point shots. Still, he managed 14 points on just 10 shots, something Donovan appreciates.

One lingering question for the Gators is whether or not they can get production from their frontcourt that will match their backcourt. Against an undermanned Jackson State, the Gators answered the question with a resounding yes.

UF had 40 points in the paint and outrebounded the Tigers by 15. The Gators were able to gain 19 points off second-chance points.

“We did a pretty good job tonight,” Donovan said. “Tonight we grabbed 44 rebounds and out-rebounded them by 15. That is the expectation level I have for our guys.”

Patric Young played a major contributing role in these numbers, notching his first career double-double. Young finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

His presence in the paint is crucial for a Florida team that needs an inside balance to go along with their more than capable shooters.

The Gators led the game wire-to-wire, leading by as many as 51 points in the second half.  Their halftime total of 59 equaled the final score for Jackson State.

In the loss, Jenirro Bush showed a burst of talent for the Tigers. He connected on six of his nine three-point shots, with many of them from very deep.

Bush, with 20, and Kelsey Howard , with 14, were the only Tigers to score in double-figures.

The Gators are now 5-0 all time against the Southwestern Athletic Conference, never allowing more than 69 points to a team in the conference. Coming into the game, the Gators had faced Jackson State just once, a 112-69 drubbing in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

The Gators now set their sights on another team they have seen recently in the NCAA Tournament: Ohio State. No. 3 Ohio State will host the Gators on Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

For the second year in a row, the Gators will take on the Buckeyes in an early season matchup. Last year, Ohio State came into the O’Dome and beat the Gators 93-75.

With memories of last season still fresh for most of the team, the Gators are anxious to get another chance. Even Beal, who was not on the team last season.

“As soon as the buzzer went off, our mindsets were on them already,” Beal said. “We are going to do whatever it takes to win the game.”