Gator basketball proving 3-point prowess


Florida forward Erik Murphy takes a shot against Mississippi State on Saturday. Murphy is shooting 49 percent from 3-point range.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 7:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 7:45 p.m.

Facts

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Who: Florida (20-3, 10-1 SEC) at Auburn (9-14, 3-7 SEC)
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Auburn Arena
Gainesville-area TV: WOGX (Cox Channel 13), WJXT (Cox Channel 19)
Gainesville-area radio: 103.7 FM, AM-850

A concern for Florida heading into 2012-13 season was how the Gators would make up for the perimeter scoring lost from Erving Walker and Bradley Beal. But through 23 games, Florida is proving to be as good a 3-point shooting team as it was last season. The Gators finished the 2011-12 season shooting 38 percent from 3-point range on 9.6 3-pointers per game. This season, Florida leads the Southeastern Conference in 3-point shooting at 38.9 percent heading into its matchup Saturday at Auburn. Florida also is making an SEC-high 8.7 3-pointers per game.


“I'm always looking at the kind of shots we're getting,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I think Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario, Mike Frazier, Kenny Boynton, Scottie Wilbekin, when those guys are open and they've got their feet set and they've got their legs under them, I feel confident with our team taking those kind of shots.” The 6-foot-10 Murphy is leading the SEC in 3-point shooting accuracy at 49 percent (49-of-100). Murphy has had the green light from Donovan since his sophomore season. His ability to knock down long-range shots from the power forward spot opens up driving lanes for his teammates. “I just try to shoot when I'm open, when I feel like I have a shot,” Murphy said. “If I don't, coach gets mad. Same with everybody. If somebody is open and they pass up a shot, he wants us to shoot when we have open shots. So I think everyone is taking good shots.” While Boynton (33.6 percent from 3-point range) has struggled this season, the Gators have received a lift from the freshman Frazier (47.1 percent from beyond the arc) off the bench. Wilbekin (38.6 percent from 3-point range) and Rosario (36.7 percent) also have proven to be capable 3-point shooters. “We've got a lot of guys who can shoot the ball,” Murphy said. “We brought some of those guys back (from last season). We've got Frazier, who is a pretty good shooter. Guys can hit open shots on our team. I'm not worried about that. I've got confidence in everybody.” Another key to UF's SEC-leading 3-point accuracy has been better shot selection and recognition of opposing defenses. “We're just trying to move the ball, share it, and whoever has the open shot, just take it,” Murphy said. “Whoever is open, we want them to shoot whenever we have a chance.” Donovan said an example of Florida's recognition of defense happened in UF's most recent two home games. The Gators took 26 3-point attempts against Mississippi State, while taking only 14 3-pointers against Kentucky. “Kentucky's gameplan clearly was to take away the 3-point line, and I think when teams take away something from you, you better recognize what's open in other places,” Donovan said. “If we take 50 3-point shots that are open and good, I have no problem taking 50 of them, but to take shots that are not good shots, not quality shots, you are wasting possessions.” Donovan felt the higher number of 3-point attempts against Mississippi State was justified because the Bulldogs were packing the defense inside to take away junior center Patric Young. “The big thing for me is our guys recognizing what's open, what's available and what shots are these guys more apt to knock down and make when they get a good look,” Donovan said. “And when they do that, they need to take those shots.” Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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