Florida cruises with 75-43 win over Arkansas at O-Dome

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 10:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 12:21 a.m.

Even though Florida played home on Saturday night, coach Billy Donovan gathered his team the night before at an off-campus hotel.

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Florida forward Alex Tyus dunks the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first half at the O'Connell Center on Saturday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer



1. Can Florida shoot the basketball better after a woeful night against Auburn?
The Gators made 11 of their first 16 shots, setting the tone early Saturday night against Arkansas. Good ball movement and establishing a post presence to Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus early helped. Florida shot 49.2 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from 3-point range. Erving Walker struggled from the perimeter, missing both his 3-point attempts, but Kenny Boynton picked up the slack by going 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

2. Will the Gators continue to rebound the ball well against a more physical Arkansas frontline?
The Gators were excellent on the boards, out-rebounding Arkansas 42-31. Florida converted 11 offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points. Chandler Parsons had a career-high 15 rebounds.

3. Can Florida keep junior Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarke from having a big night from the 3-point line?
Florida couldn't do much better guarding Clarke on the perimeter, holding the junior deep-shooting threat scoreless. Clarke went 0-of-3 from the floor and both of his 3-point attempts were air balls. Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin did an excellent job defensively keeping Clarke in check.

Go to Gatorsports.com after the game to read Kevin Brockway's answers.

"No distractions," Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons said. "I think it brought us together a bit."

The Gators responded with a dominating effort Saturday night, defeating Arkansas 75-43 before 11,184 at the O'Connell Center.

Less than 48 hours after an ugly 45-40 win at Auburn, Florida won by its largest margin against a Southeastern Conference opponent since beating South Carolina 84-50 on Jan. 13, 2007.

Asked if this season's team mystified him, Donovan responded: "Yes, don't fall in love."

Maybe that's why Donovan chose to have his team in a controlled environment on Friday night. With catered food brought in, Donovan had his team go over extensive film study on Friday night and Saturday morning before a Saturday afternoon shoot-around.

"As a coach, I think you are always trying to find different ways to get your team to respond," Donovan said. "It was important for us to come with a focus tonight, and on a college campus there can always be a level of distraction."

Florida responded with a better sense of urgency early on Saturday night. After scoring less than 25 points in the first half in each of its last two games, the Gators built a 39-17 halftime lead, shooting 57.1 percent from the floor in the first half while limiting Arkansas to 24 percent.

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton led three scorers in double figures with 20 points. Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin added 13 points apiece for Florida (15-4, 4-1 SEC), which moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC East.

Parsons had a complete floor game with five points, five assists and a career-high 15 rebounds. Florida out-rebounded Arkansas 42-31, scoring 42 points in the paint and 11 second-chance points.

"Going into the game, they (started) three guards," Parsons said. "I had a height advantage, so I feel like when a team plays three guards I should be able to get every rebound I can. I just focused on blocking out and crashing the glass hard."

Defensively, Florida held Arkansas leading scorer Rotnei Clarke scoreless and limited the Razorbacks (12-6, 2-3 SEC) to just 30 percent shooting from the field. Delvon Johnson led Arkansas with 12 points, with Marshawn Powell adding 10 points.

Macklin scored Florida's first eight points, two on inside hooks, one on a feed from Boynton and one on a bank shot in the lane. The Gators jumped to an early 10-2 lead. After Arkansas cut Florida's lead to 17-11 on a Julysses Nobles free throw, the Gators responded with a 12-0 run to take control of the game. Boynton scored the first five points of the run with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. Macklin followed with a three-point play. Tyus then added a turn-around jumper and put-back to extend UF's lead to 29-11.

"It's very rewarding," said Macklin, who didn't start the Auburn game while recovering from strep throat. "Every game, we try to establish the inside game early, and tonight we were able to make some shots."

Florida made 11 of its first 16 shots and finished with 18 first-half points in the paint.

"Start to finish it was a really good game for us," Donovan said. "We've had some games where we had double-digit leads going into the half and we haven't come out and handled it well."

Florida also got significant contributions from its bench. Freshman Casey Prather had six points, four rebounds and two assists in 10 minutes. Erik Murphy added 6 points, and freshman center Patric Young had 6 points, 4 rebounds and two blocked shots.

"I thought Casey, in particular, gave us great energy off the bench in the second half," Donovan said.

FREE THROWS: The 83 points Florida has allowed in its last two SEC games is the lowest points allowed in back-to-back SEC games in the Billy Donovan era. It eclipses the previous low of 90 points Florida allowed against Georgia (38) and Kentucky (52) on March 2 and March 6 of 2005.

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