Boynton leads Gators with 26 points in win over Rider

Florida's Mike Rosario, left, is fouled by Rider's Jeff Jones during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Rick Wilson)

Published: Friday, December 9, 2011 at 8:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 9, 2011 at 8:52 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE — Florida coach Billy Donovan had a heart-to-heart with starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton following Wednesday night’s overtime win against Arizona.

The message sunk in. With Walker playing more under control and Boynton scoring a season-high 26 points Friday, the No. 12 Gators routed Rider 90-69 before 3,478 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

Florida finished the game with 25 assists to just six turnovers.

“We shared the ball and I thought we played the right way on offense,” Donovan said.

Donovan was critical of the shot selection of both Walker and Boynton following the Arizona game. The two went a combined 5-for-27 from the floor and forced shots that weren’t there.

“I think sometimes those two guys get misconstrued of what they are about,” Donovan said. “They want to win and they have a strong desire to win. I do think that’s what makes them both great players is there is a fearlessness there of wanting to go out there and do it.”

Rider (1-9) played a 2-3 zone defense for most of the game, and Florida made the Broncs pay. The Gators (7-2) made six of their first seven 3-pointers to start the second half to break the game open. Overall, Florida went 10-of-20 from 3-point range in the second half and 14-of-33 for the game.

Boynton, coming off a 2-for-11 shooting performance against Arizona, went 9-of-13 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

“We took what the defense gave us,” Boynton said. “In the first half, we drove the ball, Erving hit some outside shots. In the second half, they kind of sagged off us and we just hit outside shots.”

Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal added 18 points. Walker had 12 points and four assists.

Florida sophomore Patric Young, playing in his native Jacksonville for the first time in his collegiate career, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth career double-double.

Young scored all 12 of his points in the first half as Florida worked the ball inside early. The Gators led 43-27 in the first half despite going 4-for-13 from 3-point range.

Coming off his career-high 25-point performance against Arizona, Young said he had roughly 100 friends and family at the game.

“You never know how a team is going to play you, especially coming off the game I had against Arizona,” Young said. “But being able to get it going early, gaining a little bit of confidence ... I was able to finish around the basket. My teammates were able to find me.”

Walker, meanwhile, took just three shots in the first half. He finished the game 4-for-7 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

“I told Erving this, 3-for-16 (against Arizona) those days are over with right now,” Donovan said. “There is too much offense on the floor right now. You gotta be able to bide your time.

“And tonight, he was really good. He controlled the game. He got the ball where it needed to go. He knocked down a couple of 3s. I thought Kenny got some good looks, too. I thought he was patient.”

Ahead 43-27 at halftime, Beal knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half, part of an 11-2 run that extended UF’s lead to 54-29.

From there, Florida maintained its lead despite some defensive lapses. The Gators allowed Rider to shoot 56.7 percent from the floor in the second half and 49.1 percent for the game. Shooting guard Jeff Jones, a Virginia transfer, led Rider with 20 points.

“I was disappointed with our defensive focus,” Donovan said. “I thought we got into trading way too many baskets. Guarding the ball was not very good, and we were terrific at that against Arizona.”

The Gators have a seven-day break for exams before their next game Dec. 17 against No. 22 Texas A&M at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise.

“Our guys need a little bit of a mental break here just to get their legs back under them,” Donovan said. “Mentally, get rejuvenated, refreshed.”

FREE THROWS: Boynton’s 26 points were two shy of his career-high. He scored 28 points in his first SEC game as a freshman at Vanderbilt on Jan. 9, 2010. … With 14 3-pointers against Rider, the Gators have now made 10 or more 3-pointers in 7 of 9 games this season. ... It was another strong all-around floor game for starting power forward Will Yeguete, who finished with four points, five rebounds and a career-high five assists.

Florida shot 10-of-20 from 3-point range in the second half and finished the game 14-of-33 from the beyond the arc.

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