GAINESVILLE — Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons has failed to score 10 points in seven of the Gators' past eight games. So during the slump he has tried to focus on helping the Gators in other areas.
Monday night, his defense was steady and he also found his shot. Parsons had a team-high 18 points and added 12 rebounds and five assists to lead the Gators to an 84-59 victory over Rhode Island at the O'Connell Center. It was UF's last nonconference game before the SEC slate starts.
"I'm going to just continue to shoot the ball, play my game, keep playing aggressive and trying to help my team out in any way I can," Parsons said. "If I hit shots, it's great, but I'm worried about the other things — playing defense, rebounding, making my teammates better."
In what junior guard Erving Walker called the Gators' most complete all-around game of the season, Florida (11-3) took a one-point lead near the midpoint of the first half and never trailed again. It led 38-24 at halftime.
Leading 13-12 with just less than 12 minutes left in the first half, Florida went on a 22-2 run to take a 35-14 lead with 4:18 remaining. Rhode Island cut into the lead with a 10-3 run in the final 3:57 of the half, but it was not enough.
Rhode Island (9-5) shot 34 percent from the field in the first half and with just less than five minutes left in the half was 0-for-9 from 3-point range. The Rams shot 37.5 percent in the game, 4-of-23 from beyond the arc. Florida outrebounded Rhode Island 49-31 and has outrebounded its opponents in 13 out of 14 games.
"I thought we played a pretty complete game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We defended really well. The difference in the game (Monday) was the rebounding margin and the way we defended the 3-point line."
Florida freshman center Patric Young got his first career start in place of senior Vernon Macklin, who suffered a left shoulder sprain in the New Year's Eve victory over Xavier. Macklin scored six and had two rebounds in 22 minutes. Young had eight points and five rebounds.
Sophomore Erik Murphy missed Monday's game with a mid right foot sprain. Walker, nursing a hip pointer, scored nine of his 14 in the first half, shooting 50 percent from the field. Kenny Boynton and Alex Tyus each added 10 points.
"That was huge getting everybody involved," Walker said. "We need everybody because we know it's going to be a 16-game grind and we're going to need everybody to achieve our goals."
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.