Boynton breaks out in UF win


Florida's Kenny Boynton (1) drives past Yale's Austin Morgan during the first half in New Haven, Conn. on Sunday. Boynton matched his career high with 28 points as Florida won 79-58. (The Associated Press)

Published: Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 7:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 10:41 p.m.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Through all of his struggles, Florida senior Kenny Boynton said, in the back of his mind, he knew the shots would eventually fall.

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Florida's Kenny Boynton (1) drives past Yale's Austin Morgan during the first half in New Haven, Conn. on Sunday. Boynton matched his career high with 28 points as Florida won 79-58. (The Associated Press)

“It was just of me taking good shots instead of thinking about my percentage,” Boynton said.

Boynton matched a career-high with 28 points, leading the Gators to a 79-58 win over Yale on Sunday afternoon before a half-Yale, half-Florida crowd of 2,532 at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. No. 13 Florida (10-2) closed out its non-conference schedule on a strong note, led by the record-setting day from Boynton.

Boynton went 8-of-10 from 3-point range, passing former Gator sharpshooter Lee Humphrey (288) for most 3-pointers in UF history. Boynton’s 289th career 3-pointer extended UF’s lead to 65-41 in the second half and his 290th with 2:45 left put the Gators up 77-54.

Boynton said he met Humphrey briefly during workouts last summer at the UF practice facility. Humphrey was a key shooting cog in UF’s back-to-back national title teams in 2006 and 2007. Humphrey still holds the record for most 3-pointers in NCAA Tournament history (55).

“It’s an honor,” Boynton said. “He was a great shooter. He has two national championships under his belt, so he’s a winner. That’s something I would still like to accomplish before my career is over.”

Boynton had showed signs of breaking out of his slump by going 3-of-7 from 3-point range against Air Force. Before that, Boynton went through a stretch of making just 4 of 32 3-point attempts.

On Friday, Florida coach Billy Donovan talked about Boynton needing to mix up his game more in an effort to keep opposing defenses guessing. Boynton’s first two shot attempts were drives to the basket. He made just one 3-pointer in the first half before catching fire in the last 20 minutes.

Boynton hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 12-0 run in the second half that extended UF’s lead to 47-23. From there, Boynton made his next four 3-point attempts to break Humphrey’s record.

“He created space for himself, and what happened was he was able to get into a rhythm shooting the basketball,” Donovan said. “The ball had a lot more arc than it did in previous games.”

While Boynton showed signs of life, it was a disappointing afternoon for another UF senior. Forward Erik Murphy sat out the game with bruised ribs he suffered Friday in practice. Murphy will have X-Rays on Monday to see if the ribs are broken.

Donovan said Murphy won’t practice on Monday or Tuesday and is doubtful for Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia. The Yale game was supposed to be a homecoming game for Murphy, whose hometown of South Kingstown, R.I., is 84.5 miles from Yale’s campus.

“I played with broken ribs as a junior and it’s tough because it’s hard to breath, you don’t sleep well, it’s hard to reach and stretch,” Donovan said. “Erik was feeling a little better and he tried to work out in the shootaround on Sunday and within 10 to 15 minutes he was feeling miserable.”

With Murphy out, junior forward Will Yeguete stepped into the starting lineup and provided a lift with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

“We feel like we have 7 or 8 different guys on this team who can start,” Yeguete said. “I just tried to play as hard as I could.”

Said Donovan: “Will was back to himself again. He was able to get all of 14 points around the rim. He was active for us.”

Florida’s press flustered Yale throughout the game. The Gators scored 19 points off 16 Yale turnovers. Mike Rosario, playing about 80 miles from his hometown of Jersey City, N.J., had 13 points and 3 of UF’s 10 steals.

All in all, it was a good final tuneup for the Gators heading into SEC play. Florida junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin had a career-high 10 assists, spreading the wealth throughout UF’s offense. Defensively, UF held an opponent under 60 points for the first time since beating Southeastern Louisiana, 82-43, on Dec. 19.

Yale at one point trailed just 26-23, but the Gators ended the first half on a 9-0 run and started the second half on a 12-0 run to break the game open.

“I’m not concerned with our won-loss record at this point as much as are we progressing and playing to the best of our ability,” Donovan said. “I think we made some strides tonight.”

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