Both teams traded buckets on their opening possessions.
That was as close as it would get.
The No. 6 Florida Gators turned up the defensive pressure once again to run away with a 72-47 victory at Florida State on Wednesday.
The difference in the game was turnovers. Florida scored 32 points off of 22 turnovers, with 14 of those being steals. Scottie Wilbekin led the way with five steals while Kenny Boynton has three.
It was the fifth time in seven games the 7-0 Gators have limited an opponent to 50 points or less.
The Gators also outscored the Seminoles 34-14 in the paint.
After forcing a shot-clock violation on Florida State’s second possession, the Gators went on a 10-0 run and never looked back.
The Seminoles answered with a 7-0 run to cut it to a one-possession game (12-9), but the Gators turned up their half-court zone and man defensive sets while mixing in some full-court pressure to dominate every aspect of the game in handing the Seminoles their third consecutive loss.
After the early run, Florida State woul score only six more points the rest of the first half to trail 35-15 at intermission. A late FSU scoring surge kept the final margin somewhat respectable, but the game was in Florida’s hands as soon as it broke the early 2-all tie.
It was evident when Michael Frazier II was unchallenged as he dribbled out the final 30 second of regulation unchallenged. Florida State’s players were ready to get to the locker room and put this one behind them.
They had been beaten into submission and FSU coach Leonard Hamilton was consistently shaking his head because his team had no answer for the Gators’ defense or offense.
Hamilton’s Seminoles simply were no match for Billy Donovan’s Gators.
“We ran into one of the better teams we’ve faced since I’ve been at Florida State,” Hamilton said during his post-game interview. “Late in the game, I tuned to one of my assistants and said, ‘Can we really be this bad?’”
Florida shot 27 of 55 from the floor (49.1 percent) while limiting FSU to 16 of 46 shooting (34.8 percent). The Seminoles were 5 of 20 in the first half when the UF defensive pressure was the most tenacious. The Gators outrebounded the Seminoles 34-26.
Any thoughts the Seminoles had of mounting a second half rally were quickly erased from their memories as Boynton and Wilbekin opened with back-to-back three-point jacks to extend the 20-point halftime lead to 26.
That keyed a 15-4 run to open the second half and the lead grew to 56-23 after consecutive three-pointers by Frazier II were sandwiched around a couple of buckets by the Seminoles.
Back-to-back steals lead to back-to-back layups by Boynton and a 62-25 lead for Florida with 8:30 remaining in regulation, which put the game well out of reach.
Boynton and Rosario each had 14 points to lead four Florida players in double figures. Frazier II finished with 12 while Patric Young had 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Erik Murphy came off of the bench after not practicing for four days with a hip pointer. He had nine points and seven rebounds, so he appears to be back to form.