Gators blow out Badgers
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.
Senior Florida forward Erik Murphy said he didn’t even know he had a perfect day from the field going Wednesday night against Wisconsin.
“I don’t really keep track of stuff like that,” Murphy said.
Murphy tied a career-high with 24 points, and No. 10 Florida maintained its defensive intensity throughout the game in its 74-56 win over the No. 22 Badgers before an announced 9,614 at the O’Connell Center.
Florida’s first signature win of the season came in part because of Murphy’s big day. The 6-foot-10 senior forward went 10-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line. He made both of his 3-point attempts but did most of his damage inside, scoring on a variety of putbacks and post baskets.
“That was something I tried to work on in the offseason with the coaches, just having a more versatile game and being better down low,” Murphy said. “I just had some looks down low in this game and they fell.”
Murphy matched his previous career high of 24 points against Kentucky in the 2012 SEC Tournament. But in that game, Murphy made four 3-point attempts.
“Teams are going to need to change their scouting reports,” Florida junior center Patric Young said. “We were going up against some pretty good defenders in there. They are going to have to guard (Murphy) from the outside and the inside. Hopefully we can utilize that to the best of our ability.”
Murphy had missed Monday’s practice with a migraine headache, but was able to get through Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s shootaround.
“When I get them, I just have to lay down and sleep pretty much and they go away,” Murphy said.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said that Murphy and the rest of the Gators needed to step up, given Florida’s lack of depth. The Gators played their second straight game without forward Casey Prather (concussion) and point guard Scottie Wilbekin (suspension).
“I told those guys they had no choice,” Donovan said. “I said, ‘Listen, you have to fight through this right now.’”
The Gators responded with an inspired start, jumping out to a 21-9 lead with a mix of zone and press defenses. At one point during the early run, Murphy scored seven straight points on a 3-pointer and two inside baskets.
“I thought this was a game where we needed to play chaotically with great energy,” Donovan said. “We needed to play as fast as we could in the press, trap, run around, and I give our guys a lot of credit because without a lot of subs, I thought they fought and battled through a lot of fatigue.”
Wisconsin went on a 10-0 run, cutting Florida’s lead to 21-19 on a jumper from forward Ryan Evans. But Florida stayed hot from the field, shooting 75 percent from the floor to build a 43-31 halftime lead.
Florida could have led by more, but committed 12 first-half turnovers while struggling to get the ball inside to Young on some post feeds. The Gators finished the game with 20 turnovers.
“To have 20 turnovers and score 74 points against a team like Wisconsin, that’s unheard of,” Donovan said.
Mike Rosario added 15 points for the Gators (2-0). Kenny Boynton, spelling Wilbekin at point guard, had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Florida handled the physical challenges inside, holding the Badgers to 35.6 percent from the floor while outrebounding Wisconsin 40-21.
“If we’re not a top-five frontcourt in the country after that performance, I don’t know what one is,” Young said.
Wisconsin (1-1) failed to get in an offensive rhythm throughout the game. The Badgers struggled from the perimeter, going 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) from 3-point range. Wisconsin missed its first eight shot attempts. Center Jared Berggren and freshman forward Sam Dekker led the Badgers with 11 points apiece.
“We had some looks,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “We’ve got some guys in practice that hit those same shots. We were on the road for the first time with these guys. What you like to do is get them away somewhere before you come in and play a game like this, but that didn’t happen.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com. Also check out Brockway’s blog at Gatorsports.com.