GAINESVILLE — Alex Tyus scored 12 of his season-high 20 in the second half, and Vernon Macklin added 19 and eight rebounds to lead the Gators to a 65-52 victory over Kent State on Thursday at the O'Connell Center.
Toward the end of the first half, the Gators offense finally started to roll.
Florida (7-2) closed the half with a 9-0 run, going 4-for-4 from the field and taking a five-point lead into the locker room. About seven minutes into the second half, a potential Flashes upset gave way to a 25-4 Gators run.
Gators coach Billy Donovan credited his team's ability to make stops.
"The thing that is probably getting lost for the last three or four games is how well and how much these guys have improved defensively," Donovan said. "It's been four straight games now that we've kept people below 40 percent (shooting) for the game."
Florida held Kent State (7-3) to 34.5 percent shooting from the field while the Gators dominated with easy buckets inside and shot 48.4 percent. Led by Macklin, a center, and Tyus, a forward, Florida outscored Kent State 46-16 in the paint.
Macklin was the key for Florida early. And when he rested for six minutes in the first half, Kent State outscored Florida 13-7.
Florida's game-changing run coincided with Macklin's return with 3:20 left in the half. Tyus was the only other bright spot early, scoring eight before the break on 4-for-7 shooting. Macklin was 6-for-7 from the field during that stretch.
"The first half, they didn't really get enough touches," Donovan said. "I said, 'These guys are 10-for-14 from the field, and here's the shooting percentage for the rest of our team.' … The ball needs to go inside."
Tyus took over in the second half when Macklin took a breather early, scoring six straight points, punctuating the run with a put-back slam after a miss by Chandler Parsons.
Macklin said Tyus had appeared to be down on himself earlier this year so Thursday night was refreshing.
"You can tell whenever a guy is not being himself," Macklin said. "As of right now, I'm loving it. I just want to keep getting him the ball and feeding off of him."