Boynton, UF begin SEC play


Florida's Kenny Boynton drives upcourt during the second half against Arizona at the Stephen C. O' Connell Center on Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 11:57 p.m.

When Florida junior guard Kenny Boynton isn't in the gym working on his shooting stroke, you will find him picking apart his games on videotape.

Facts

Today's SEC opener

Who: No. 13 Florida Gators (11-3) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (7-7)
When: 11 a.m.
Where: Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.
TV: ESPN2
Radio: 103.7 FM, AM-850

“I try to watch every game, see the shots that I missed, the tough shots that I took,” Boynton said. “Basically, I try not to take tough shots now.”

More film study has led to better shot selection, which in turn has fueled Boynton's scoring surge this season. Boynton enters Florida's Southeastern Conference opener this morning at Tennessee second in the league in scoring at 19.5 points per game.

Boynton is shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point range, more than 15 percent higher than his 3-point average (31.3 percent) his first two seasons. He's scored 20 or more points nine times this season and is averaging 24 points per game over his last three games.

Between his freshman and sophomore year, Boynton hired a shooting coach in an effort to improve his mechanics. But this past offseason, Boynton didn't tinker with his form.

“I didn't change anything about my shot,” Boynton said. “I've probably been in the gym more and that's what has made a difference.”

Boynton also said he's trying to take the ball to the basket more.

“Last year, I settled a lot for 3s,” Boynton said,

In his first two seasons, Boynton was given the green light to shoot because Florida coach Billy Donovan could count on him to give effort on both ends of the floor. Boynton emerged as one of the better defensive players in the SEC in that span.

With more scorers on the floor this season, Donovan has tried to get Boynton to become more selective in his shooting.

“As a player, the last thing you want to do is be looking over your shoulder after you miss a shot and wonder if the coach is going to take you out,” Donovan said. “You have to give a level of freedom there, but with that freedom comes responsibility.

“I think Kenny is starting to understand how long a game is and is learning to bide his time and not force anything.”

Teammates have noticed a difference in Boynton's shot selection this season.

“He's been more efficient this season, because he's taking good shots and moving the ball around,” Florida sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin said. “He's making a good percentage. His efficiency is really helping our team.”

Florida enters its SEC opener at the Vols fifth in the nation in scoring at 85.8 points. With Boynton, point guard Erving Walker and shooting guard Bradley Beal on the floor at the same time, there are no shortage of scorers on the perimeter. Boynton has been the most consistent of the three, but he's aware that can change.

“We knew we had a lot of scorers,” Boynton said. “And as you have seen on nights Erving didn't score, we've scored a lot of points, and on nights Brad didn't score, we've scored a lot of points. So basically, it's whatever guard is on that night. Basically (you) just play your role.”

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

FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS

G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Jr. 19.5 ppg, 3.1 apg

G Erving Walker 5-8 Sr. 13.7 ppg, 5.3 apg

G Bradley Beal 6-3 Fr. 14.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg

F Erik Murphy 6-10 Jr. 10.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg

C Patric Young 6-9 So. 12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg

TENNESSEE PROBABLE STARTERS

G Jordan McRae 6-5 So. 10.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg

G Trae Golden 6-1 So. 14.8 ppg, 5.3 apg

F Cameron Tatum 6-7 Sr. 9.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg

F Kenny Hall 6-9 Jr. 6.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg

C Jeronne Maymon 6-7 Jr. 11.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg

Notes: Florida has won seven of its last eight SEC openers. … The Gators won all three of their games against Tennessee last season and have won the last four meetings between the schools. … Florida leads the nation in 3-pointers made (169) and is first in the SEC in scoring (85.4 ppg). … The Gators have made 27 of their last 48 3-point attempts in wins over Yale and UAB. … Tennessee lost four starters from a team that finished 19-15 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season. … The Vols are allowing just 5.9 3-pointers per game.

— Kevin Brockway

Three things to watch

Wake-up call

Florida will play a rare 11 a.m. start against Tennessee due to the fact the game is televised nationally on ESPN2. It gives both schools an exclusive national TV window before the 1:30 p.m. tip times on the SEC network. Florida is 2-0 in daytime tips this season with wins over Yale and Texas A&M. With classes still out, Florida is practicing earlier in the day to prepare for the morning tip. “I personally would rather play earlier,” Florida junior guard Kenny Boynton said. “Our team, we've been practicing earlier to get ready for this game and we're gonna come out ready.”

Battle on the boards

Tennessee hasn't done much well this season, but the Vols rank fourth in the SEC in rebounding margin at plus-3.4. Florida ranks second at plus-5.4, but has been outrebounded by Yale and UAB in its last two games. Florida coach Billy Donovan said Bradley Beal, who already has two career doubles-doubles, needs to get back to attacking the glass after finishing with no rebounds against UAB. An interesting battle in the paint will feature Florida 247-pound center Patric Young against Tennessee 267-pound center Jeronne Maymon. Young will need to play smart and stay out of foul trouble. Maymon ranks sixth in the SEC in rebounding at 7.9 rpg.

Taking care of the ball

The common denominator in UF's three road losses this season has been an inability to take care of the basketball. Florida has a combined assist-to-turnover of 40-to-54 in the three losses. The Gators, 0-3 on the road this season, will need to make better decisions with the ball and work together to pick up their first road win.

Three questions

1. How will Florida respond to the morning tip time?

2. Can the Gators do a better job on the boards after being outrebounded in each of their last two games?

3. Can Florida move the basketball better and avoid careless turnovers that contributed to previous road losses at Rutgers, Syracuse and Ohio State?

Go to Gatorsports.com after the game for Kevin Brockway's answers.

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