Florida men's basketball defeats North Florida
With his team having a little more than 24 hours to recover from a disappointing loss to Ohio State and an unexpected layover in Ohio earlier on Tuesday, Florida coach Billy Donovan’s main concern heading into Thursday night’s game against North Florida was whether his team could shake the loss and get mentally focused.
His concern was unwarranted.
The No. 7 Gators shot 48.5 percent from the field en route to a 91-55 victory over North Florida in front of 10,013 at the O’Connell Center.
“As a basketball player I think actually us playing again right away was good so it doesn’t linger with you,’’ said senior guard Erving Walker, who had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. “You just want to get right back out there so you can forget about Ohio State. We’ve played another game now so that Ohio State feeling is gone. We wanted to win, but we also wanted to use it as a learning experience.’’
With forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson in foul trouble early, Donovan was forced to go to a four-guard rotation that included Walker, Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal. It’s the lineup that many believe is going to be the difference-maker for the Gators this season, but Donovan said it’s a work in progress.
“I’ve got to try to do a better job with that because a lot of times with that lineup (center) Patrick Young was taken out of the offense and we’ve got to find ways to incorporate him more,’’ Donovan said.
All four guards scored in double figures and also pulled down 22 rebounds – led by Beal’s 10.
“With a one day prep like we had . . I was happy with the way they came out and battled,’’ Donovan said. “There were some spurts I thought were really good, and some things I think we need to work on.’’
Florida led 39-22 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 21-6 run. But despite that domination, the Gators struggled from the free-throw line going 16-of-29 for the game.
“Of course this worries us because if you’re put in a tight game that can cost you,’’ Rosario said. “We’ve worked on it in practice, but not enough.’’
The Gators were without sophomore forward Will Yeguette, who was suffering from concussion-like symptoms after taking a hit in the Ohio State game. Donovan said he’s scheduled to undergo more medical attention today.