Florida loses SEC opener
Published: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Florida broke out of its season-long 3-point shooting slump Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym.
Three questions, three answers
1. Can Florida break out of its season-long 3-point shooting slump?
Florida went 13-for-27 (48.1 percent) from 3-point range, its second best 3-point shooting performance of the season (Florida shot 60 percent from 3-point range on Dec. 4 against Jacksonville). UF's starting backcourt of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton were a combined 11-for-22 from beyond the arc. Even senior forward Dan Werner made a couple of 3s, his first since Dec. 4 at Jacksonville. But it still wasn't enough for the Gators to pull out the road win.
2. Can the Gators limit Vanderbilt from getting offensive rebounds — a weakness so far this season?
Florida gave up 14 offensive rebounds for another poor performance on the defensive glass. Vanderbilt made Florida pay on the boards, scoring 18 second-chance points. Because centers Vernon Macklin and Erik Murphy were in constant foul trouble, the Gators were forced to play Alex Tyus at center for longer stretches. Tyus had just two rebounds. Overall, Vanderbilt out-rebounded Florida 32-29.
3. Will the Gators be able to effectively contain Vanderbilt preseason All-SEC center A.J. Ogilvy?
Ogilvy had his way inside against the Gators, scoring 24 points. The performance was just a point shy of Ogilvy's season-high 25-point game last Dec. 2 against Missouri. After scoring eight points in the first half, Ogilvy scored Vanderbilt's first eight points of the second half. Florida coach Billy Donovan admitted after the game he was so concerned with Vanderbilt's 3-point shooting early, it may have opened things up for Ogilvy inside throughout the second half. Vanderbilt made five of its first seven 3-pointers to stay with Florida's hot shooting in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Too bad UF's defense didn't show up.
Florida's trademark early-season defensive intensity was nowhere to be found in an 95-87 loss to Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym. The foul-plagued Gators gave up 40 points in the paint, 18 second-chance points and forced just seven turnovers.
The Gators had their streak of eight straight Southeastern Conference opening wins snapped and wasted a 13-for-27 shooting performance from 3-point range.
"We've had some woeful shooting games and we've found ways to win," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Here's a game on the road where we shoot 53 percent from the field, 49 percent from 3-point range and lose. So there really is a significance in the fact that our basketball team has got to be committed to playing at the defensive level we need to."
Freshman Florida guard Kenny Boynton scored a career-high 28 points in his SEC debut, and sophomore guard Erving Walker added 22 points. But Florida had no answers inside to stop Vanderbilt junior center A.J. Ogilvy, who had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the Commodores.
"We just have to put a full game together, offense and defense," Boynton said.
Players and coaches had different theories for Florida's defensive woes. Boynton blamed the problems on communication breakdowns. Walker said Vanderbilt was the more physical team. Donovan pointed to foul trouble as the reason forUF's defensive woes.
"There was no question our frontcourt being in foul trouble really hurt because it was a lot easier for Vanderbilt around the basket," Donovan said.
For as good as an SEC debut as it was for Boynton, it was an equally rough SEC debut for junior center Vernon Macklin and freshman center Erik Murphy. Macklin, in foul trouble throughout the game, had just two points and one rebound in 14 minutes before fouling out with 6:34 remaining. Murphy, who picked up three first-half fouls, fouled out with 6:05 left in the game with just four points and three rebounds in 13 minutes.
Junior forward Chandler Parsons, who scored a career-high 27 points at Vanderbilt last season, picked up two first half fouls and finished with eight points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench.
"We fouled way too much in the frontcourt," Donovan said. "Vernon fouled too much, Erik fouled too much and Chandler had two fouls in the first half. It not only allowed us them to shoot free throws, it put our players on the bench."
Donovan said he would have to go to the film to judge whether the fouls were careless, but pointed out a few instances when Macklin and Murphy were caught out of position.
With snow flurries falling outside Memorial Gym, Florida got off to a hot start from the perimeter. The Gators made their first five shots from the floor to jump to an early 12-7 lead.
Florida made eight of its first 11 3-pointers and went into the locker room ahead 44-42 at halftime. The Gators came into the game shooting an SEC-worst 29.3 percent from 3-point range.
"It's disappointing to lose period," said Walker, who went 5-for-8 from 3-point range. "It doesn't matter if you have a good shooting game or not. It's just disappointing overall."
In the second half, Vanderbilt turned to Ogilvy. Against UF's foul-compromised frontcourt, Ogilvy scored Vandy's first eight points of the second half on two wide-open dunks, an inside bank shot and two free throws to put the Commodores back ahead 50-48.
"I didn't think we came out at halftime doing a good enough job right off the get-go," Donovan said. "That's something we've got to correct and change."
The 6-foot-11 Ogilvy grabbed five offensive rebounds and went 10-for-12 from the foul line.
"It was more of an aggressive mindset," Ogilvy said. "I really didn't take (their foul trouble) into consideration. But I just tried to play more aggressive and get some shots."
Said Donovan: "Ogilvy I thought played really well. He made some good things happen. He really in a lot of one-on-one moves put ourfrontcourt in foul trouble."
Senior point guard Jermaine Beal was as valuable for Vanderbilt, scoring 22 points with five assists to just two turnovers. Vanderbilt routinely broke a Florida press that gave North Carolina State fits six days ago.
Still, Florida stayed in the game, cutting Vanderbilt's lead to 60-59 on a Boynton layup with 11:35 remaining. But Vanderbilt took control of the game with a 7-0 run. Freshman John Jenkins, who scored 13 points off the bench for the Commodores, answered with a big 3-pointer to put Vanderbilt up 63-59. Andre Walker and Beal followed with consecutive inside baskets to extend Vanderbilt's lead to 67-59.
Florida couldn't cut Vanderbilt's lead to four points for the rest of the game. With No. 3 Kentucky looming in Florida's SEC home opener on Tuesday at the O'Connell Center, Florida faces the realistic chance of falling to 0-2 in the SEC for the first time since 1995-96, Lon Kruger's last season at UF season. Florida has never started 0-2 in the SEC under Donovan.
"We know Kentucky is a good team, they are not going to lay down," Boynton said. "At the same time they are coming to Gainesville and that's our home. We're going to defend it."
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