Florida earns 82-54 victory over Mississippi Valley State
Florida guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton scored 19 and 16 points respectively to help lead the Gators to an 82-52 victory over Mississippi Valley State Monday night at the O'Connell Center.
Prior to the game, Florida coach Billy Donovan reminded his team of how similar a situation Monday night's game was to one last season - a big win over a ranked opponent, a 48-hour turnaround, then a terrible loss to a lesser opponent - and challenged them to rise to the occasion.
Last year it was a victory over No. 6 Kansas State, then a loss to Jacksonville. Florida coach Billy Donovan made a point on the bus ride home from Sunrise and a win over No. 22 Texas A&M this past Saturday to remind his team of recent history.
“I talked to those guys about that, we’re in the same exact situation,’’ Donovan said. “Is history going to repeat itself or are you guys going to change that?’’
Monday night's game featured a never- before-used walk-on making critical free throws and Gator players having to run sprint drills just prior to the start of the second half.
With junior guard Mike Rosario out with a chronic lower back injury and forward Cody Larson out with strep throat, Donovan allowed walk-on Jacob Kurtz to suit up. With 2:06 remaining in the game, Kurtz went to the free throw line with this on the line: make both and Donovan would cancel today's practice. Kurtz hit both, setting off a wild celebration on the Gators’ bench.
"He knocked them down like a champion,'' said sophomore Patric Young, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “We were excited for him anyway, but once he put that on the line we got even more excited. I'm really happy for him. He's worked really hard. He started as a manager with us last year and he came to everything. He wasn't even like a full-fledged manager. He just came and watched practices, came to 6 a.m. workouts, and a year later he's in the game scoring his first two points.’’
Hear more from Donovan on tonight's game: