UF's Boynton handles pressure at the foul line

Florida's Kenny Boynton, front, fights for a loose ball against South Carolina's Ramon Galloway during the second half.

Aaron E. Daye/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 12:25 a.m.

Kenny Boynton had seen this all before.

Florida's freshman guard remembers watching last year's Florida-South Carolina game where Chandler Parsons was sent to the foul line to put away the Gamecocks. With a 69-68 lead, Parsons missed the one-and-one, giving South Carolina a chance and the eventual game-winning layup at the buzzer by Zam Fredrick.

Boynton wasn't allowing history to repeat itself.

After getting fouled on a 3-point shot with 11 seconds remaining, the soft-spoken Boynton found himself dealing with the pressure of bringing a Florida team back that was trailing 54-52 to those same Gamecocks.

Before stepping to the charity stripe, Boynton said he didn't think about the outcome of making or missing. Boynton blocked out the crowd and calmly drained each free throw, giving the Gators the 55-54 lead.

Seconds later, Boynton's free throws appeared an afterthought after Parsons officially got his revenge by putting the game away — after South Carolina's Devan Downey regained his team's lead — with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“It was like a repeat, but we got them this time,” Boynton said.

But as big as those free throws were, Boynton understands if they get lost in Parsons' heroics.

“I set the play up. He finished it off,” he said. “That's all that counts. We got the win.”

Boynton's addition to Florida's ending was nothing like his first-half performance. In fact, his entire second half was the exact opposite of what he showed in the first 20 minutes.

Boynton went 0-for-3 from the floor (all 3-point shots) and finished with zero points in the first half.

With a plan of getting the frontcourt more involved early, Boynton said he “played it safe.”

Boynton nixed that in the second half, going 5-for-10 and finishing with a team-high 14 points. It was the 15th double-digit scoring game of his Florida career.

Struggling with his shooting mechanics, Boynton said he decided to make plays in the paint with more cuts to the basket.

“In the second half I started attacking the rim more,” he said. “I didn't hit an outside shot in the first half or the second, but I attacked the rim and I started finishing (in the second half).”

All five of Boynton's buckets were layups.

Sophomore guard Erving Walker said it was Boynton's assertiveness and confidence that guided them in the second half.

“We look for him to make plays,” Walker said. “He's got to score for us, he's got to step up. I tell him all the time that I know he can do it, and I'm going to look for him.”

Boynton's second-half offensive explosion was impressive, but coach Billy Donovan said he was more pleased with his defensive efforts.

Donovan said he gave Boynton and Walker the responsibility of sticking with Downey, who lit up the O'Connell Center with 36 points. However that didn't stop Donovan for praising Boynton's defensive efforts.

Couple that with his free throws at the end, and Donovan came away elated with Boynton's performance.

“He did not shoot the ball great, but the one thing I love about Kenny, he plays defense, he wants to win,” he said.

“The one thing that's going to be lost in this game is the fact that a freshman walked up to the free-throw line and made three free throws with 11 seconds to go — down by two. That says a lot about the player he is.”

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