UF defeats visiting FAU

Florida's Scottie Wilbekin, left, drives downcourt through the defense of Florida Atlantic's Raymond Taylor during the second half at the O'Connell Center on Tuesday.

Aaron Daye/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 9:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 11:44 p.m.

With No. 16 Florida ahead by two points going into the second half against Florida Atlantic, UF coach Billy Donovan had an animated conversation with starting big men Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus.

The message?

"He just wanted us to get to the basket more, play more physical," Macklin said.

Macklin grabbed nine of his career-high 11 rebounds in the second half, while Tyus scored a season-high 19 points. Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton scored a team-high 21 points as the Gators overcame some shaky moments to beat Florida Atlantic 79-66 at the O'Connell Center.

"We'd like to play perfect every game, but it isn't always going to happen," Tyus said. "It's a long season and we're going to continue to fight and get better."

Florida (4-1) led just 59-53 after FAU junior guard Alex Tucker hit a pair of free throws with 5:18 remaining. But the Gators closed the game out with a 20-13 run after getting FAU starting big men Brett Royster and Kore White to foul out.

Florida senior Chandler Parsons, who was held scoreless in the first half, hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the final five minutes to finish with eight points, six rebounds and two assists.

After a lackluster first half, Florida won the game by turning up its defensive intensity and attacking the basket more in the second half. Florida held FAU to 4-of-17 shooting to start the second half. On the other end of the floor, Florida got to the foul line 20 times in the final 20 minutes, making 15.

"Our guys adjusted pretty well and did a much, much better job in the second half guarding," Donovan said.

Donovan blamed the slow start of Macklin and Tyus on himself, saying that FAU slightly tweaked its offense from its previous game against American.

"In the first half, those guys, it was a half where they were probably confused. They were probably a step late, they were trying to think too much, they were late on rotations," Donovan said.

The 6-foot-10 Macklin has been playing through the first five games with tendinitis and bone spurs in his right knee. But he put forth a gutty effort, grabbing five of his nine second-half rebounds on the offensive glass.

"Vernon rebounded the ball much better in the second half," Donovan said. "He had a ton of offensive rebounds, which was great."

Macklin was given the option of taking a few weeks off to rest his knee, but said he wants to play through the pain. He's been limited in practice. Asked to grade his pain from 1-10, Macklin responded: "Probably a five or six."

"It's getting better each week, actually," Macklin said. "I'm just getting a lot of rest right now, a lot of treatment."

Donovan wasn't pleased with UF's execution on the fast break, which was sloppy at times. The Gators had 11 assists to 13 turnovers.

"I did not think we were great on offense," Donovan said. "I thought we had a chance to open up the game several times. I didn't really feel like we handled the fast break really well, didn't convert very well on the break, thought our decisions at times were not very good."

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