UF has weapons for another run


Florida center Patric Young dunks against Wisconsin during the second half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on Wednesday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

I know it's early. I know it's way early. I know that in March you'll have to look up the score of Wednesday night's game and you'll have to be reminded about Erik Murphy's historic shooting performance.

I know that the selection committee relevance of this win is still to be determined and that to say there is a lot of basketball to be played would be akin to saying that guy on “Man v. Food” has a lot of eating to do.

Still, this was one of those results that gets the attention of the people who are paying attention to the sport while the rest of the sports world is arguing over BCS standings, whether or not Tim Tebow is “terrible” and the plethora of quarterback concussions.

Florida beat Wisconsin 74-56. That it was an 18-point margin was one thing. That Bucky Badger didn't get within a single-figure deficit in the last 25:44 of the game was another.

That Florida scored 74 points despite 20 turnovers was a whole different matter.

“It's unheard of,” said Billy Donovan.

And the Florida coach was especially proud that his team did that without a bunch of bombs. Florida made six 3-point shots. This was more about the paint than the arc.

Again, it's early. Florida probably won't shoot 75 percent in a half many times this season. The Gators are going to have some depth issues until they get Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather back. And no matter the result, 20 turnovers are way too many.

But it's clear that Florida has the weapons to have another season like the last two. They can go inside and out. They can drive to the basket and pull up for floaters. On a night when Kenny Boynton made only three baskets, Murphy made all 10 of his.

Mike Rosario still looks out of control at times, but when he's playing 39 minutes those mistakes aren't as noticeable.

“He makes some wacky plays sometimes that drive me nuts,” Donovan said.

But he made some good ones as well, scoring 15 points and dishing out a team-high four assists.

Add in an offensively improved Will Yeguete, and these Gators can come at you a lot of different ways.

“I missed this,” said Yeguete, who missed the last nine games of last season with a foot injury. “I love playing in big games here.”

This was a big game because both teams were ranked and both teams have high hopes for this season. Again, we have no idea what will happen with Wisconsin, whether the beatdown was more about Florida or a young Badger team wilting under the pressure of the Rowdy Reptiles.

And we don't know if the free throw shooting (15 straight made to start the game) was an aberration or an indication. Is this the Yeguete we'll see all year? Is Erik Murphy ever going to miss again?

All we know is that this is again a team with a chance to do what it has the previous two seasons.

“That's how you get to Elite Eights,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. “This isn't a surprise to basketball people.”

Not a surprise but perhaps a statement. Bradley Beal may be gone and he will be missed, but this is a different Florida team that still can send you home discouraged. It wasn't just the offense, but a defense that limited the Badgers to 35 percent shooting and 29 percent from the 3-point line after being one of the SEC's worst defensive teams from beyond the arc.

“We guarded the 3-point line. Thank God. Finally.” Donovan said.

It will be months before we know a whole lot about this team and this season, but we know that for one night in November, it had to get the attention of everyone else in the SEC and even the college hoops nation.

And that on one night, Murphy showed that he's not only the X-factor for this team but Mr. Perfect.

“He made a lot of big shots,” said center Patric Young. “Every single shot.”

It's early. Way early.

But that doesn't make it any less impressive.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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