Frazier shines as UF throttles Marquette
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 at 12:54 a.m.
Before most of his teammates hit the floor Thursday night, Florida freshman Michael Frazier II was at the north basket at the O’Connell Center, lofting up extra shots.
“I do that a lot,” Frazier said. “Just a normal routine. I try to be first one in the gym, before anyone else.”
Behind 17 points off the bench from Frazier and another smothering defensive effort, the No. 7 Gators beat Marquette 82-49 Thursday night at the O’Connell Center.
Florida (6-0) won its first SEC-Big East Challenge game in three tries with a balanced effort. The Gators finished the game with six scorers in double figures. Casey Prather, Mike Rosario and Will Yeguete added 11 points apiece for the Gators. Patric Young and Erik Murphy each had 10.
Defensively, Florida held Marquette to 41.2 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Golden Eagles 37-23 and had five blocked shots. Young added 10 rebounds, while Yeguete chipped in seven.
The rematch of last March’s Sweet 16 game between the two teams was far from sweet for Marquette (5-2). The Gators extended a 14-point halftime lead to more than 30 by the end of the game. Vander Blue led the Golden Eagles with 20 points.
It was Marquette’s worst loss since a 99-52 loss to Louisville in 2005.
Florida went with a minor adjustment to its starting lineup. Gainesville native Scottie Wilbekin made his first start of the season in a three-guard starting lineup with Kenny Boynton and Rosario. Murphy and Yeguete started up front. Young was demoted to the second team due to attitude issues in practice.
“He didn’t practice at the level we needed him to,” Donovan said.
Said Young: “I just didn’t have a good attitude in practice. Coach, he wants me to be dependable, an everyday guy which I know I can do.”
The smaller starting lineup played with energy for the Gators early. Florida jumped to an early 18-11 lead, playing strong defense and getting a couple of early 3-pointers from Frazier.
Florida maintained its lead for the remainder of the first half. After a Blue 3-pointer cut Florida’s lead to 30-22, the Gators responded with an 8-0 run. Yeguete hit a runner in the lane against Marquette’s zone defense, and Frazier hit two more 3-pointers in transition.
The Gators led 38-24 at halftime, holding Marquette to 37.9 percent shooting. Florida had four first-half blocked shots while outrebounding the Golden Eagles 19-13.
Frazier went 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half and finished the game 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
“The basket was looking a little bigger for me, that’s for sure,” Frazier said. “My teammates just did a great job of finding me.”
After scoring 21 points in Florida’s exhibition win over Nebraska-Kearney, Frazier came into the game shooting just 25 percent from 3-point range.
“I think with a freshman, you try to be encouraging,” Donovan said. “Mike is a better shooter than what he had shown early this season. What’s kept him on the floor is his ability to rebound from the small forward. But he was putting some extra time in during the week in practice and it showed tonight.”
When told Frazier was the first player at the O’Connell Center on Thursday night, Donovan responded: “He’s always been like that. He’s got a great work ethic.”
Florida carried its defensive intensity over to the second half, forcing a 24-second violation on Marquette’s first possession. The Gators opened the second half with a 9-0 run. Murphy scored five straight points on an inside basket and 3-pointer. Boynton then followed with a mid-range jumper, and Yeguete scored on a pretty inside pass from Young, extending UF’s lead to 47-24.
FREE THROWS: Florida will not make up its game against Georgetown that was called at halftime due to condensation issues on the deck of the USS Bataan. Florida was leading 27-23 at halftime. A date of Jan. 2 was proposed to finish the second half at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but Georgetown officials felt it was too close to the start of the Big East Conference schedule on Jan. 5. … With six points against Marquette, Boynton (1,676 points) is two points shy of Stacey Poole (1,678 points) for fifth on UF's all-time scoring list.