UF student numbers swell for Georgia game

Scottie Wilbekin dished out 10 assists.

Mike Rosario snatched three steals.

Casey Prather grabbed six rebounds.

And, of course, Kenny Boynton placed his name a top the Gators’ record books with his eighth 3-point basket of the game.

It was a day of both personal best performances, as well as a record-breaking one.

But that was Sunday.

Wednesday night it was the students’ turn.

In No. 11 Florida’s SEC opener on Wednesday, a 33-point rout of Georgia, not only did the Gators show up en force — but so did the students.

A lot of them.

“Whenever we play Georgia our attendance is high,” said Mark Gajda, UF’s assistant athletics director. “Tonight though, we had a lot of enthusiastic students, and we made the decision to overflow our usual allotment”.

The overflow exceeded the usual student ticket allocation by nearly 900 students, allowing the Rowdy Reptiles section to climb from its courtside bleachers up through the O’Connell Center’s third level. The nearly 3,200 student fans not only contributed to a lively crowd, but also marked the highest student attendance figure in seven years.

“The students helped create a great environment tonight,” Gajda said. “It was our largest student crowd since the game versus Alabama in 2006.”

Though the University Athletic Association has set the student ticket allocation figure at 2,300, there is a concerted effort to provide access to as many students as possible. Increasing the allotment is often done when reserved seats have not been sold, as was the case tonight.

“We have done this in the past and will certainly do it moving forward,” Gajda said.

The turnout was certainly not lost on Donovan, who praised the crowd and spoke about its impact on the game.

“It was a great crowd and a great environment,” Donovan said. “When our crowd shows up and our students show up, there is a jolt of energy and enthusiasm that goes through our team”.

Donovan and his Gators are surely hoping for that crowd-enthused “jolt” during the next home game on Jan. 19 — a tough matchup against SEC newcomer No. 10 Missouri.