This time, Macklin stays long enough to produce

Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 11:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 11:20 p.m.

Vernon Macklin might have finally found his comfort zone.

Entering Saturday's game, Florida's redshirt junior center was the poster boy for silly fouls and less-than-dominant post play. But in Florida's 72-58 win over LSU, Macklin did his best to shed both of those images.

Those ticky-tack fouls that plagued him through Florida's first two SEC games were nowhere to be found against the Tigers (9-8, 0-3 SEC) as he finished with zero fouls for the first time this season in 28 minutes of play.

"It feels good not to give fouls like I was in the first two (SEC) games," Macklin said.

He added 14 points and eight rebounds, improving the Gators (12-5, 1-2 SEC) to 9-1 when he scores in double figures.

But it was his lack of foul trouble that really fueled the Gators, as they faced a more athletic LSU team. Macklin said he came into the game more relaxed, not thinking about fouls. He tried to get into the best defensive position he could and play his game with more rhythm.

He also was probably tired of being hounded by his head coach about his foul trouble in conference play.

"I'm happy Vernon could have some success playing the game and at least contributing and staying on the floor for 28 minutes because the last two games we've had him at 14 and (19) minutes,"UF coach Billy Donovan said. "We got a little bit more productivity out of him today."

Donovan said LSU forward Storm Warren's early foul trouble and failure to become more of a battling body down low also helped Macklin compose himself.

Macklin's new controlled style of play and load of minutes helped him contain his men in the interior as he held Warren to just eight points, while forwards Dennis Harris and Garrett Green scored a combined seven points.

"When we have him down there, he's a load," junior forward Chandler Parsons said. "When we get him the ball in the post, he's really hard to guard. We definitely need him on the court."

Offensively, Macklin was solid in the lane. He crashed the boards with a new-found intensity and even turned to his hook shot for baskets when he couldn't get close enough for an easy layup or dunk.

He even found some luck on the night when LSU's Aaron Dotson made just enough contact to turn Macklin's one-handed dunk into an off-balance layup that awkwardly dropped through the net, giving Macklin a chance at a three-point play that he eventually converted, giving him nine first-half points.

Macklin continued his more focused play in the second half. Though he didn't have the offensive explosion he had in the first, Macklin turned his attention to defense.

Macklin, who said he watched extra film on his fouling issues, appeared to have learned his lesson when he stopped himself from trying to swatLSU's Chris Bass' dunk with 8:56 left. Instead, Macklin eased up, allowing Bass to score without risking a careless foul.

"I wanted to challenge him a lot, but there's no point in getting a 3-point play," he said. "That helped the team out a lot."

Less careless play is something Parson said he expects to continuously see from Macklin and it should go a long way to helping him become an elite big man in the SEC.

"The sky's the limit with him," he said. "He's so athletic, so long, so smart. He's one of the most unselfish big guys I've ever played with in my life. He just gets it. He just has to bring that energy that he did tonight every night."

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