Thursday, January 18, 2018
Sports

Florida Gators seniors hope to go out on top

GAINESVILLE — Two years ago, Gators F Erik Murphy was frustrated, disillusioned and contemplating transferring. When Kenny Boynton signed out of American Heritage High, the guard never expected to stay four years.

Both are still wearing Florida uniforms.

On Wednesday night, the two seniors will be honored (along with Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario) before their final home game at the O'Connell Center vs. Vanderbilt. A win would give Florida its second outright SEC championship in three years, and Boynton and Murphy would be the first Gators to win two outright titles.

"I think that says a lot with what they've been a part of," coach Billy Donovan said. "They've been a part of really good things here. Both of those two guys had opportunities to go to a lot of different places and they chose to come here. I'm just happy it's worked out well for those guys, and they've been pretty significant in their roles over the last — for Kenny, four years, and certainly for Erik, the last two years."

Murphy said he has learned so much on and off the court that he couldn't begin to talk about it all. But like so many college seniors, he admits four years flew by.

"It snuck up, no question," he said. "It doesn't feel like it's my last home game at all. It's hard to really grasp that. Seeing them (previous players) go through it. Erv (former G Erving Walker) wasn't really an emotional kid, he didn't show much emotion. On Senior Night, I think that was the only time I saw him cry. That goes to show how much emotion comes with that just because of how much everybody's invested in the team and the program. When you finally come to the realization it's your last game at school here, it's something special."

Boynton, who is best friends with Walker, jokingly said Monday that fans shouldn't expect any tears from him Wednesday night. He will leave as No. 2 on the Gators' all-time scoring list, having surpassed Andrew Moten on Saturday. He's also on track to graduate in May. He's not sure whether he met or exceeded expectations but said he never expected to break records during his career. When it's all said and done, what would he like his legacy to be?

"I want them to say that I was a winner," Boynton said. "In my four years here, I've tried my best to win as much as I could. Definitely I want to go out this year as a winner with winning a national championship."

ANOTHER POLL DROP: For the second straight week Florida dropped in the AP poll, this time falling three spots to No. 11. The Gators (23-5, 13-3) are No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. They remain No. 3 in the Sagarin rankings behind Indiana and Louisville and are No. 6 in RPI rankings. Florida is 12-5 vs. RPI top 100 teams, 4-3 vs. the top 50 and 1-2 vs. top 25.

SLOW RETURN: Tampa G Michael Frazier's return to the lineup Saturday didn't quite go as well as the Gators hoped. Frazier, who sustained a concussion in the Feb. 23 Arkansas game and didn't practice on Thursday and Friday, played just six minutes and was 0-for-1 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line.

"I think between the concussion and lack of practicing, he wasn't prepared to play," Donovan said. "And that's why I didn't play him in the second half. We weren't getting enough out of him, and probably rightfully so. But I think you had to throw him in there just to try to see what he could do."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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