UF frontcourt perseveres in win

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 3:18 p.m.

ATHENS, Ga. — Florida freshman center Patric Young fouled Georgia forward Trey Thompkins hard enough in the first half to set the tone for a physical game between border rivals.

Young's hack on Thompkins to prevent an easy layup brought to mind another Jacksonville native who enjoyed contact throughout his Florida career — Tim Tebow.

Yet for as poorly as Florida's frontcourt played in the first half Tuesday night at Georgia, the Gators frontline players came out equally inspired for the rest of the game. As a result, Florida (16-4, 5-1 SEC) beat Georgia 104-91 in double-overtime to stay in first place in the SEC East and improve to 5-0 on the road.

Senior center Vernon Macklin scored 17 of his career-high 23 points after the end of the first half. Parsons added nine points in the second overtime to finish with his 10th career double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds).

"The thing I was proud of was our rebounding the last 30 minutes of the game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Our rebounding as a whole was much better."

After being badly outrebounded (24-14) in the first half, Florida did a better job on the defensive glass in the second half while converting on its own second-chance opportunities. By the final whistle, Georgia and Florida were even in rebounding (47-47). The Gators converted 18 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points.

Offensively, the Gators turned to the 6-foot-10 Macklin in the second half. During one a stretch midway through the half, Macklin scored nine straight Florida points on an array of hook shots, putbacks and inside layups. Macklin also added a big putback in the second overtime to put Florida ahead 89-85.

"He was so physical for us," Parsons said. "He's our horse and we kept feeding the post to him. We were going to ride Vern for as long as we could."

The 245-pound Young continued to do the dirty work underneath the basket. In 30 minutes, Young had two points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.

Florida still had some issues with interior defense, allowing Georgia's starting frontline of Thompkins, Travis Leslie and Jeremy Price to score 57 points. Young also made a freshman mistake by going over to help Alex Tyus to try to block a drive from Georgia junior guard Dustin Ware in the closing seconds of regulation. That allowed Thompkins (20 points, 13 rebounds) to emerge wide open on the weak side for the tying putback at the buzzer that forced overtime.

But Donovan said that given the quality of Georgia's frontline, he was pleased Florida regrouped and played better inside in the second half.

"Thompkins, to me, is the most under-publicized player in college basketball," Donovan said of the preseason SEC player of the year. "He can do so many things. I think our coaches in the league know how good he is. It's just a shame he doesn't get the recognition nationally that he deserves."

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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