Boynton beginning to hit his shooting stride


Published: Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:01 a.m.

Like Gainesville winters, sophomore guard Kenny Boynton has had his share of hot and cold streaks throughout his two-year Florida career.

Boynton has maintained his aggressiveness, which has helped the Gators split the first two games of a key three-game stretch. On Saturday, Boynton scored a team-high 21 points, a bright spot in No. 13 Florida’s 76-68 loss to No. 22 Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

“Basically I was taking what the defense was giving me,” Boynton said. “Sometimes they were giving me space and I was just bumping back. We worked on it in practice, we worked on moving off screens and I just knocked down open shots.”

Boynton shot 7 of 13 from the floor and 5 of 9 from 3-point range. It was his first game shooting better than 50 percent from the floor since Nov. 23 against FAU.

“He played very, very well,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I think the one thing with him is he shot the ball well. That’s part of it. That kept us around.”

The 6-foot-2 Boynton has required a high volume of shots, sometimes, to get on track. But Boynton has been finding consistent ways to score of late, part of the reason why Florida finished February 6-1. Boynton reached double figures in all seven games, averaging 15.3 points per game during the stretch.

Though Boynton is heating up (8 for his last 16 from 3-point range), Donovan wants the former McDonald’s All-American to continue to focus on other aspects of his game. Boynton has been Florida’s most consistent perimeter defender this season and has posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 8 to 2 over his last two games.

“I don’t want him to, as a player, to judge or evaluate his performance based on just how he’s shooting, because you know what, he had a lot to do (against Kentucky),” Donovan said. “He did a good job guarding (Brandon) Knight and he also was productive offensively.”

Donovan admitted that Boynton is still feeling his way with shot selection. Down the stretch against Georgia, after making three 3-pointers in a row to give Florida some breathing room late, Boynton fired up an ill-advised 3-point attempt early in the shot clock. That prompted a quick hook from Donovan.

“Coming back to the bench, even he told me, ‘That was a bad shot, wasn’t it’,” Donovan said. “Sometimes, you have a rein a guy in. But he’s a good kid who works hard each day in practice. With a kid like him, I don’t think you want to take away his aggressiveness because when you look at it, those were big 3s that he made for us. He’s capable of getting on that kind of a roll.”

Donovan is hopeful that Boynton will continue that roll into March. In five games last March, Boynton averaged 19.4 ppg, including a 27-point performance against BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Coming off the loss to Kentucky, Florida (22-6, 11-3 SEC) can clinch at least a share of the league title with a win Tuesday at home against Alabama.

“I think we’re going to watch film and realize what our mistakes were (against Kentucky),” Boynton said. “We’re going to come out ready to practice hard. It’s just going to make us stronger.”

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