Notebook: Gators get quality minutes from bench players
Published: Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 6:46 p.m.
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Trailing by 10 points in the first half, Florida needed a spark Saturday afternoon at Mississippi State.
The Gators received it from their bench, which helped Florida rally back twice during the course of the game.
Florida's bench provided quality, productive minutes, combining for 17 points, 15 rebounds and three steals in Saturday's 71-64 loss to the Bulldogs.
"Our freshmen came in and really did a great job, they turned up the intensity," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "They did a great job defensively."
Donovan went with as many as three or four freshmen on the floor at the same time during some first-half stretches. Freshman Will Yeguete provided a nice early lift with a put-back and a steal on the press. Freshman center Patric Young, who dealt with foul trouble for much of the game, had 3 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
"I thought the game slowed down a little bit for us, and by putting Scottie (Wilbekin) and Casey (Prather) and Will in there, even Patric, he had some foul trouble, I thought that those guys really brought us a lot of energy," Donovan said. "Those guys came in there, and they really I thought got control of the game for our older guys."
Sophomore forward Erik Murphy was Florida's top bench scorer with 7 points. Like Young, Murphy was in foul trouble while having to deal with Mississippi State forward Renardo Sidney and Kodi Augustus. Murphy also added an assist and two rebounds.
"Our whole bench did a nice job for us," senior forward Chandler Parsons
Mullen watching Meyer
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen said he's talked to his mentor, former Florida coach Urban Meyer, a few times since Meyer's resignation last December. Mullen worked under Meyer for more than eight years at Bowling Green, Utah and as the former offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08.
"He seems happy to me, and that's what's really important," Mullen said.
Mullen said he's also caught Meyer a few times on TV as an ESPN analyst during the BCS title game.
"I think he did a really good job," Mullen said. "He said the right things. My wife, she's a former TV anchor and she was watching it with me and was critiquing little things. But I thought he looked pretty good."
Mullen's Mississippi State team received the Gator Bowl trophy during halftime of Saturday's game between Florida and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs trounced Michigan, 52-14, in one of five SEC bowl wins.
"This is the first of many championships we will win at Mississippi State," Mullen told the crowd at halftime.
Florida dropped to 3-3 in afternoon tips and 0-3 in games in tip times before 2 in the afternoon. Florida also suffered losses against Jacksonville (1 p.m.) and South Carolina (1:30 p.m.). ... Florida's last regular season loss against an SEC West opponent also came at Mississippi State, 80-71, on March 4, 2009. Mississippi State also beat Florida 75-69 in the second round of the SEC Tournament last March. ... The Gators had won nine straight regular-season games against SEC West opponents. ... Mississippi State held Florida to 64 points, the fewest it has allowed in an SEC game this season.