New-look UF, Marquette teams meet in Sweet 16 rematch
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.
In many ways, tonight's Florida-Marquette game at the O'Connell Center won't resemble the Sweet 16 matchup between the two teams last March.
Who: No. 7 Florida Gators (5-0) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (5-1)
When: 9 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center, Gainesville
Gainesville radio:AM-850, 103.7 FM
Gone is sharp-shooting Florida guard Bradley Beal and UF all-time assist leader Erving Walker. Beal is now draining jumpers for the Washington Wizards, while Walker, who hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch against the Golden Eagles, is playing overseas in Italy.
Marquette, meanwhile, will be without its top two scorers — Darius Johnson-Odom and Big East player of the year Jae Crowder.
“Two totally different teams,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Florida knocked off Marquette 68-58 last season, advancing to its second straight Elite Eight. But Donovan is wary of the talent that Marquette is returning in the SEC-Big East Challenge matchup.
“Losing Crowder and Odom, those guys are really good players, but I think they have the potential to be better than they were a year ago,” Donovan said.
In particular, Donovan is concerned about Marquette's scoring balance and ability to share the basketball. The Golden Eagles scored 31 baskets off 28 assists in their 79-46 win Monday night against Maryland-Baltimore County. Marquette played the game without starting guard Vander Blue, who sat out with a twisted knee. Blue is expected to return tonight.
“They've got a really well-balanced team, whereas maybe a year ago, their team went as Crowder and Odom went and those other guys filled in,” Donovan said.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams is just as concerned about the challenges that Florida presents. The Gators have won their first five games by an average of 23.8 points per game.
“Their personnel is outstanding,” Williams said. “I think when we played Florida, Beal was on his ascent. … Erving Walker was a good player, but I think they are a better team with (Scottie) Wilbekin. Kenny Boynton is extremely talented. (Erik) Murphy is back, (Patric) Young is back. I think they are really, really good.”
Even with the personnel changes, Donovan said there will be some familiarity with Marquette from last March in terms of style of play. Florida players also know Marquette's returning players will come into the game with motivation, looking to avenge a season-ending loss.
“If you have been beat the year before, you will try to come back and win it next year,” Boynton said. “I know they are going to come in ready to play, so we've got to match their intensity.”
Said Young: “It might be on their minds, but they have to know, we're a completely different team. That game has nothing to do with this game coming up on Thursday. Both teams are going to have to be ready to play.”
The game also will feature two coaches who have developed a strong mutual respect for one another. Williams first attended Donovan's coaching clinic two years ago. After Marquette's Sweet 16 loss, Williams called Donovan “a future Hall of Famer” while speaking glowingly about his approachability and ethics.
Donovan said he had a chance to spend more time with Williams during Nike founder Phil Knight's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame last September.
“He's a really good guy and we built a pretty good relationship,” Donovan said. “I've got a lot of respect for him as a person and a coach and what he's done there at Marquette.”
FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS
G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Sr. 16.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg
G Mike Rosario 6-3 Sr. 11.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg
F Will Yeguete 6-7 Jr. 6.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg
F Erik Murphy 6-10 Sr. 12.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg
C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 10.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg
MARQUETTE PROBABLE STARTERS
G Trent Lockett 6-5 Sr. 9.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
G Junior Cadougan 6-1 Sr. 7.0 ppg, 5.0 apg
G Vander Blue 6-4 Jr. 11.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg
F Jamil Wilson 6-7 Jr. 11.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg
C Chris Otule 6-11 Sr. 8.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Notes: Florida is playing in its third SEC-Big East Challenge game. The Gators are 0-2 in prior SEC-Big East Challenge games, with both losses coming to Syracuse (72-68 in 2011 and 85-73 in 2009). … Florida is 1-2 all-time vs. Marquette. … Backup guard Scottie Wilbekin is coming off career highs in points (17) and assists (8) in UF's 79-66 win over UCF. … At 1.670 career points, senior guard Kenny Boynton needs just eight points to tie Stacey Poole (1,678 points) for fifth on UF's all-time scoring list. … Florida is currently second in the nation in points allowed (48.4 ppg) and one of five teams in the country giving up less than 50 points per game. … Marquette returns three starters from a team that finished 27-8 last season and lost to Florida in the Sweet 16. … Marquette junior center Davante Gardner (6-8, 290 pounds) has been productive off the bench this season, averaging a team highs in scoring (14 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg). … Marquette guard Todd Mayo, who scored 11 points off the bench against the Gators in the Sweet 16 last season, has been academically ineligible to play since the beginning of the season and will not play tonight. Mayo is the younger brother of Memphis Grizzlies' guard O.J. Mayo.