FLORIDA BASKETBALL

Notebook: Murphy looks to bounce back from off game


Florida Gators center Erik Murphy battles for a rebound against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first half of the Sweet 16 game at Cowboys Stadium on Friday in Arlington, Texas.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:20 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Florida senior forward Erik Murphy insists an illness earlier in the week didn't bother him Friday night.

Enlarge

Florida Gators center Erik Murphy battles for a rebound against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first half of the Sweet 16 game at Cowboys Stadium on Friday in Arlington, Texas.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Facts

Sunday's game

At Cowboys Stadium
Arlington, Texas
Eilte Eight
South Regional Championship

Michigan (29-7) vs. Florida (29-7), 2:20 p.m.
TV: CBS
RADIO: 103.7 FM

Murphy will be looking to bounce back from an off game this afternoon when Florida faces Michigan in the Elite Eight. The 6-foot-10 forward who has hit big shots throughout UF's three straight Elite Eight runs was held to just four points against Florida Gulf Coast on 2-of-7 shooting. In 24 minutes, Murphy also had four rebounds, an assist, a blocked shot and two turnovers.




“A couple of my shots didn't fall,” Murphy said. “I didn't get that many looks. They guarded me pretty well. That's it. Some nights it's your night, some nights it's not. All that matters is to get the W.”

Murphy had averaged 16.5 points through UF's first two NCAA Tournament games. On Monday, Murphy reportedly came down with a case of a mild stomach flu.

Murphy, the SEC's leading 3-point shooter at 45.9 percent, said the shooting background at Cowboys Stadium didn't throw him off. As a team, Florida had a rough night from the perimeter, shooting just 26.7 percent (4 of 15) from 3-point range. Murphy's lone 3-point attempt came up short.

“During the game, players don't really notice it,” Murphy said. “It's a sweet setup. You get out there, you're warming up, you get used to it. It's something special to play in this arena.”

Second choice

Michigan freshman center Mitch McGary is familiar with the Florida program. McGary was recruited hard by Florida coach Billy Donovan and the Gator coaching staff.

“I developed a great relationship with Billy Donovan, (Florida assistant coach) John Pelphrey, Rick Pitino's son (Richard, an assistant at Florida from 2009-11),” McGary said. “They were probably my second choice, behind Michigan. They're a great program. Billy Donovan, he develops his bigs very well, with Erik Murphy and Patric Young who are phenomenal players.”

McGary said he felt Michigan was a better decision for him personally. A Chesterfield, Ind., native, the 6-foot-10, 250-pound McGary is playing closer to home. And he's getting extensive playing time on college basketball's biggest stage. Since becoming a starter at the start of the NCAA Tournament, McGary is averaging 19.7 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Oh, brother

Former Florida standout and current Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford is in a tough spot. Does he root for the Gators or root for his younger brother, Jon, a sophomore forward at Michigan?

“I'm not too worried about it,” Jon Horford said. “I'll have to call him and ask him.”

At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Jon Horford has provided some bulk off the bench for Michigan. He's averaging 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 29 games (including four starts). The younger Horford said he visited the Florida campus a few times.

“I always knew I was going to go somewhere in Michigan or the Midwest,” Horford said. “So it's worked out for me. It's been great, and hopefully we're on our way to a national championship.”

Billy the kidder

Donovan had some fun at Saturday's news conference when asked about being the last player before Michigan's Trey Burke to finish with more than 20 points and 10 assists in a Sweet 16 game.

Burke pulled off the feat Friday night against Kansas, finishing with 23 points and 10 assists in Michigan's 87-85 overtime win. Donovan had more than 20 points and 10 assists in Providence's 103-82 Sweet 16 win over Alabama in 1987.

“I don't know how I got that,” Donovan said. “My wife, she asked me the same question, she said ‘Who was the player.' I know even now what the numbers were. And I said Magic Johnson. And she said, ‘no, you.' I said, ‘I'm glad I compared myself to Magic Johnson, that's great.'”

Donovan said Burke reminds him of former Duke and current Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.

Etc

The Florida-Michigan winner will face Syracuse in the Final Four next Saturday in Atlanta. … With the Sweet 16 win Friday night over Florida Gulf Coast University, Donovan reached two significant coaching milestones. First, the 17-year UF coach picked up his 450th career win and 415th win with the Gators. Second, Donovan picked up his 31st NCAA Tournament win, passing Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (30) for the most NCAA Tournament wins by a SEC men's basketball coach. … Donovan was taken aback by some comments that FGCU made about UF's defense, which ranks third in the country in scoring at 53.7 points per game. “Here's a team coming in here that said they weren't concerned about our defense at all, because of (beating) Georgetown and San Diego State,” Donovan said. “And felt like they were going to score against us.” The Gators held FGCU to 50 points while forcing 20 turnovers. … Michigan has three sons of former NBA players on its roster, Tim Hardaway Jr. (Tim Hardaway, Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors), Glenn Robinson III (Glenn Robinson, Milwaukee Bucks) and Jon Horford (Tito Horford, Washington Wizards). “There's never been a shortage of them getting to the gym,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “I guarantee you. They're in there, working at it. And the best is yet to come.”

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top