Gators-Hoyas game wiped out at halftime
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 1:11 a.m.
NAVAL STATION MAYPORT — Florida’s season opener against Georgetown wound up being a glorified one-half scrimmage.
But it also served as a tribute to the nation’s troops during Veterans Day weekend.
The Navy-Marine Corps Classic between the schools was canceled before the start of the second half Friday due to condensation issues on the court.
The game won’t count in the standings, according to an SEC official. Florida was leading 27-23 at halftime in the game played on the deck of the amphibious carrier USS Bataan at Naval Station Mayport.
“It came at us pretty quick,” said Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton when asked about the condensation. “We tried to stretch on it and it appeared to be OK, but it was worse on Georgetown’s side of the court.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan and Georgetown coach John Thompson III addressed the crowd after the game was called.
“We certainly want to play, but the problem right now, we don’t want to get anyone hurt,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “If you can understand how slippery it is down here, you would understand why we can’t play.”
Said Thompson III: “It’s dangerous down here and we don’t want our guys getting hurt.”
The Ohio State-Marquette outdoor game in Charleston, S.C., on the deck of the carrier USS Yorktown on Friday night was also called off due to condensation problems.
There were little to no condensation problems in the first half. Florida senior guard Mike Rosario slipped on the floor during one play along the baseline, but it was quickly mopped and towel dried by officials.
But as both teams came out to start warm-ups in the second half, the conditions on the court became more slick. Coaches and staff members tried to towel off the court to no avail.
“Obviously it was their decision, they decided to call it,” Florida senior Erik Murphy said. “They felt it was unsafe, and looking at it now, it was probably right. Obviously it was a little disappointing, but it also was a great experience and a lot of fun.”
Game officials had tested the court Wednesday from 9-11 p.m. and found no condensation problems.
Florida put together a decent first-half effort against Georgetown. The Gators outrebounded Georgetown 16-14 and held the Hoyas to just 35.7 percent shooting in the first half.
“We had a good defensive effort,” Boynton said. “I think we rebounded better than we have been doing in the past.”
The lone problem for Florida in the first half was turnovers. The Gators, playing without suspended starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin, had eight first-half turnovers. Boynton had three assists and four turnovers in one half at point guard.
With Wilbekin out, Florida went with a bigger starting lineup, going with Will Yeguete at small forward, Murphy at power forward and Patric Young at center. Yeguete had a strong all-around floor game with eight points, four rebounds and a blocked shot.
“We played decently well, we guarded, we played some zone,” Murphy said. “We turned it over a little bit too much, but it was the first game of the year.”
Even though the game was called, players took time shortly afterward to get their pictures taken with troops and fans who attended the game.
“It’s nice that we get to be around the troops,” Boynton said. “We definitely look up to these guys. Definitely I would do it all again, just would have been nice to finish off the game.”
Florida’s season opener will now take place Sunday at the O’Connell Center against Alabama State. The Gators are looking to keep their string of 21 straight season-opening wins intact.
“We just have to regroup and get ready for Sunday,” Boynton said.
FREE THROWS: Boynton and Young were named to the coaches All-SEC first team on Friday.
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