Gators roll past Alabama State

Florida Gators forward Will Yeguete goes up for a shot against Alabama State Hornets guard Terrelle Green during the first half on Sunday in Gainesville. Florida defeated Alabama State 84-35.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 5:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 5:49 p.m.

Florida coach Billy Donovan has no concerns about senior Kenny Boynton’s temporary move to point guard.

“I have a lot of confidence with Kenny at the point,” Donovan said.

Behind a team-high 22 points and 5 assists from Boynton, No. 10 Florida (1-0) rolled to an easy 84-35 win over Alabama State on Sunday at the O’Connell Center. Florida extended its season-opening win streak to 22 games and improved to 17-0 in season openers under Donovan.

Florida also maintained its defensive intensity throughout the game. The Gators held an opponent to its fewest points since beating Southern 83-27 in 2006. Florida also allowed just 9 points in the first half, the lowest point total the Gators have allowed in a half in the shot-clock era.

“I thought we were pretty good defensively in the first half,” Donovan said. “Obviously they missed a lot of shots, but I thought the shots we forced them to take was impressive to me, from the bench, because we didn’t give up a lot of 3(-pointers) and they were taking a lot of tough challenged 2s.”

Boynton was 8-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-4 from 3-point range. He had no turnovers and added to UF’s lopsided rebounding margin (50-30) with six rebounds.

In a half against Georgetown running the point, Boynton had 4 turnovers.

“I just wanted let it come to me,” Boynton said of running the point. “I calmed myself down. Basically my main thing was not turning the ball over today.”

With 22 points, Boynton moved past Neal Walk into 7th place on UF’s scoring list with 1,611 points. Boynton is 13 points shy of the late Dwayne Schintzius for sixth on UF’s list (1,624 points).

“He understands when to shoot,” Donovan said. “I think a lot of people think because he’s been such a prolific scorer, if you play him at the point, it’s going to hurt our team and inhibit him from scoring, or maybe shoot too much and not pass enough. I think Kenny understands being a senior now, the different things he needs to do.”

With the scoring, Boynton was able to keep the rest of UF’s offensive players involved. Senior forward Erik Murphy added 15 points for the Gators, while Mike Rosario scored 14 points. Patric Young posted his fifth career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

“Kenny is a guard, regardless he can play the point or the two (shooting guard),” Murphy said. “He’s a great defender at the point, understands the game, plays hard all the time. It’s good having him on your team.”

Florida led 47-9 at halftime and built a 57 point lead with 6:50 to go in the second half before emptying its bench. Players dove on the floor for loose balls in the second half with Florida up by more than 40 points.

Florida scored 29 points off 19 Alabama State turnovers and held the Hornets to just 21.4 percent from the floor.

“It should let teams know that we are not going to back down, no matter what the scoreboard says,” Young said. “We’re going to approach the game like it’s still 0-0. We’re trying to come out there and give our best effort. We’re not going to play down to the level of the team.”

The Gators will need intensity to carry over into their big matchup Wednesday at the O’Connell Center against No. 23 Wisconsin. They also will need Boynton to remain steady at the point. Donovan confirmed that junior starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin will remain suspended for the Wisconsin game. Florida’s school website reported Saturday that Wilbekin will sit out four games, but Donovan did not confirm the length of the suspension on Sunday. Wilbekin is not practicing with the team but is allowed to work out at the UF basketball facility.

“There’s still information I have to gather,” Donovan said. “As of right now, I’m not playing him against Wisconsin, unless some of the things I’m able to find out this week will change. But I would say right now he will not play against Wisconsin.”

FREE THROWS: Donovan said junior forward Casey Prather (concussion) will be out at least another week. Prather sustained his second concussion in the span of two weeks in a practice last Monday. “He’s still having symptoms right now,” Donovan said. “He’s still having headaches, those kind of things. With him having a concussion previously and this being the second one not far removed from the first one, I can sense that this will be a process before he gets back on the floor.” … Florida walk-on guard Billy Donovan has been unable to practice this season due to a sports hernia. … Donovan, who is ineligible to play this season after transferring from Catholic University, will see a doctor this week. …. The announced attendance for Sunday’s season opener was 8,047. … After lighting it up in the exhibition against Nebraska-Kearney, Florida’s freshmen combined to go 5-for-20 from the floor and 1-of-12 from 3-point range against Alabama State. Point guard Braxton Ogbueze led the freshmen with 7 points and 4 rebounds.

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