Florida gets revenge with 79-60 victory at South Carolina
Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 9:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 9:58 p.m.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Whether it was revenge or just a sign of maturity after a pair of emotional wins, No. 17 Florida made things look easy Wednesday night.
1. Will the Gators do a better job scoring inside and avoiding shot blocks?
After getting eight shots blocked in the first half against South Carolina in its 72-69 loss at the O'Connell Center, Florida had just two of its shots blocked Wednesday night. Senior center Vernon Macklin went right at South Carolina center Sam Muldrow, while Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker did a good job on their floaters in the lane. "They at least got the ball up on the glass where we could get some offensive rebounds," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
2. How well can Florida keep talented South Carolina freshman point guard Bruce Ellington in check?
Ellington led South Carolina with 14 points, but it still wasn't as dominant as the 23-point performance he had against the Gators at the O'Connell Center. Ellington was held to just 3 points in the second half.
3. Can Florida continue to get quality production from its bench?
Florida only got 6 points from its bench, all coming from freshman center Patric Young. But the Gators didn't need much from the bench considering how well the starting five played. Will Yeguete came up with a nice steal against Sam Muldrow with South Carolina gaining some momentum midway through the second half. Casey Prather also had a steal which led to a fast-break layup.
Go to Gatorsports.com after the game to read Kevin Brockway's answers.
Florida's 79-60 win at South Carolina cannot be understated, considering the Gamecocks had given the Gators headaches in games in the recent past. Florida snapped a two-game losing streak at Colonial Life Arena while avenging a 72-69 loss to South Carolina at the O'Connell Center earlier this season.
“Our guys, I thought, came out with good focus against a team that, basically, for more than 30 minutes dominated us in the first game,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who earned his 350th career victory at Florida on Wednesday night. “So I think there was a level of respect there.”
It showed from the opening tip. Florida (19-5, 8-2 SEC) held South Carolina (13-9, 4-5) scoreless for the first 5:35, jumping to a 9-0 lead. The Gators never trailed the rest of the way, jumping to a 38-27 halftime lead and maintaining a double-digit lead for most of the second half.
“We didn't want to take our foot off the gas,” said Florida senior Chandler Parsons, who nearly pulled off a triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
Erving Walker led four Florida players in double figures with 25 points, breaking out of a recent shooting slump. Walker, who had been 8 for his previous 39 from 3-point range, went 4-for-5 from 3-point range on Wednesday night.
“It felt good,” Walker said. “Shots are going to go in and out. The key is for me to just take good ones.”
Senior center Vernon Macklin scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half. Parsons overcame some early turnovers to put together another excellent floor game. The 6-foot-10 Parsons now has reached double figures in rebounding in six straight games.
“A triple-double would have been neat, but I didn't really know about it until there was about two minutes to go,” Parsons said. “I'm really not thinking about the stat sheet. I'm just going out there and trying to play to the best of my ability.”
Said Walker: “He's playing great basketball for us right now. We expect that from him, his versatility.”
Kenny Boynton added 12 points for the Gators. The Gators shot 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from 3-point range, while forcing 18 turnovers and had 36 points in the paint. After getting out-rebounded in the first game against the Gamecocks, Florida out-rebounded South Carolina, 31-28.
“I would say it was a complete game,” Walker said. “But we're not going to get complacent. We know the rest of the season is ahead.”
The lone blemish for Florida was its 16 turnovers, 10 coming in the first half. But Florida limited its damage by only allowing 11 points off turnovers. Freshman Bruce Ellington, who scored 23 points in the first meeting against Florida, led South Carolina with 14 points. Sam Muldrow and Brian Richardson each scored 10 points for the Gamecocks, while Ramon Galloway scored 7 of his 9 points in the first half.
“I really felt like we had some opportunities where, up 17, we could have even extended the lead more, if not for some careless turnovers,” Donovan said.
The Gators established Macklin inside early. After Walker scored Florida's first basket with a 3-pointer, Macklin followed with back-to-back inside baskets to put the Gators up 7-0.
South Carolina didn't get its first basket until a Galloway 3-pointer cut Florida's lead to 9-3 with 14:25 remaining.
“They hit some 3s to get off to a good start the first time we played against them,” Donovan said. “We did a good job defending the 3-point line early in the game.”
After South Carolina's RJ Slawson hit a 3-pointer to cut Florida's lead to 30-24, Florida went on an 8-0 run sparked by defense. Walker hit a runner in the lane to extend Florida's lead to 32-24.
Freshman Patric Young then scored on a pretty post move to put Florida ahead, 34-24. Florida then scored its next two baskets off steals. An Alex Tyus steal led to a Parsons put-back. Then, a Parsons steal in transition led to a Boynton layup that extended Florida's lead to 38-24.
Ellington hit a 3-pointer to cut Florida's lead to 38-27 at halftime. The Gamecocks had a chance to cut Florida's lead to nine, but Galloway's driving layup in transition was waved off when it was ruled, after video replay, he released it after the buzzer sounded.
Macklin made all six of his shot attempts in the first half, helping Florida maintain its two-and-a-half game lead over Kentucky and Tennessee in the SEC East. Florida also improved to 6-1 on the road. The Gators won just five games on the road all of last season.
“We can't have any more letdown games,” Macklin said.
“We know how tough the division is.”