UF on a layoff before Arizona
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 11:53 p.m.
With the Gators off to a 7-0 start, Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton said he wouldn't have minded more games before Saturday's showdown at No. 8 Arizona.
“The games for us is like a reward,” Boynton said. “Practice is when we get our hard work in. I definitely would like to play more games, but we've got a lot of time to get ready for Arizona.”
Sixth-ranked Florida is in the middle of a 10-day break between games. The long layoff is for Florida players to focus on final exams.
On the court, the Gators are earning straight As. Florida has won its first seven games by an average margin of 25.2 points, including back-to-back lopsided wins over Marquette (82-49) and Florida State (72-47).
“This a good group,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “They've worked hard. We've had to individually battle through our own adversity as a team.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan has been forced to go with three different starting lineups in seven games due to injuries and suspensions. Florida junior guard Scottie Wilbekin sat out the first three games of the season due to violating team rules, while Casey Prather sat out UF's first four games after suffering a pair of concussions in practice.
Patric Young was benched for Florida's game against Marquette due to attitude issues in practices, but contributed off the bench with a double-double and three blocked shots. Erik Murphy wasn't in the starting lineup against FSU with a hip-pointer but had nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.
“We've had to battle through some things and I think the one thing that hopefully our guys are able to see is that our sum is maybe bigger than one or two individuals and I think that's a good sign of a team,” Donovan said. “I think collectively as a group we all complement each other very well. I still think we can get better. I still think we can improve.”
The Gators will need to continue to grow in its showdown with the unbeaten Wildcats. Arizona (7-0) will be looking to avenge a 78-72 overtime loss to Florida last season at the O'Connell Center. The Wildcats have added transfer point guard Mark Lyons from Xavier and an incoming 2012 freshman class ranked third in the nation by most major recruiting sites.
Florida played its first seven games in the span of 24 days. The Gators also had a game against Georgetown on the deck of the USS Bataan called at halftime due to condensation issues. The game won't be made up.
“It's nice to have a little break because we had a bunch of turnarounds for a while, our schedule was pretty crazy early on,” Young said. “It gives us time to get guys back healthy. Murph should be all the way back to 100 percent.”
Donovan said it will be important for the players to keep their focus with the holidays approaching.
Florida has suffered its share of letdown games during December, including a 2009 loss to South Alabama, 2010 loss to Jacksonville and 2011 loss at Rutgers.
“Playing as many games as we've played this early against some really good quality opponents I think guys get mentally drained,” Donovan said. “So I think we'll probably need some time to regroup before we go out west.”