Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NCAA Tournament: Florida Gators guard play a key against UCLA Bruins

TAMPA — UCLA freshman center Josh Smith was the center of the media attention on Friday afternoon, and while his inside presence will clearly be a factor when Florida and UCLA meet in today's third-round NCAA Tournament game, the outcome may rest heavily with the backcourts.

Florida starting guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker and UCLA guard Malcolm Lee and forward Tyler Honeycutt could play pivotal roles. With the battle inside expected to be extremely physical between the Gators' big men and 305-pound Smith, Florida hopes to capitalize on its speed, ability to put pressure on UCLA's shooting guards and its outside shooting.

"I think we have some of the fastest guards in the country," UF senior center Vernon Macklin said. "So I think UCLA is going to have a job on their hands guarding our offense, our pick-and-roll offense because we have some great guards that play for us."

UCLA coach Ben Howland acknowledged that guard play is critical.

"Boynton and Walker are very, very good guards," Howland said. "They make so much happen with their ability to put the ball on the floor and create for others as well as themselves."

The Bruins are well known for their physical brand of basketball, and their ability to control the tempo and scoring. UCLA has held 93 opponents under 60 points in the Howland era. Expect Florida to try to speed up the tempo while putting extra pressure on UCLA's backcourt. UCLA averages 15 turnovers and 14.6 assists per game, eighth in the Pac-10 in assist to turnover ratio entering the tournament.

"We're definitely going to press more than we ever have this season," UF sophomore guard Kenny Boynton said. "They have showed in the past that they kind of turn the ball over. Their guards have a negative assist to turnover ratio, so we definitely want to try to get turnovers."

Honeycutt acknowledged that UCLA has had problems with small guards, and realizes it's imperative to play strong transition defense and take care of the ball.

"We've had games where we've gotten killed in transition defense, so that's one of our main focuses, getting back in transition defense," Honeycutt said. "That's a theme we keep repeating to our guards, stopping the ball early, don't let them get a head of steam. That's one of our main focuses defensively. It's on our guards to be able to stop the break. We can't let the guards get too deep in the paint or start kicking out."

Lee, who is playing with a cartilage tear in his knee, is the Bruins' second-leading scorer and has 20 double-figure games this season.

Boynton said he expects to guard Honeycutt, while Walker will guard Lee.

"Basically we've got to get back on defense because we know they are going to push it on us every time they get it — on made shots and misses," Lee said. "We know that we're going to have to find our man, and the bigs are going to have to get up and down the court, too, because their big (men) like to run as well.

"We're going to have to find them in transition early and stop them earlier."

Honeycutt has 22 double-figure games and is second on the team in assists. So the way the Gators figure it, there's one good way to go about it.

"Pressure," Walker said. "We want to get up under them and create. We don't want them to get into a flow offensively. We want to create the tempo."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com. Follow her coverage at gators.tampabay.com.

NCAA Tournament: Florida Gators guard play a key against UCLA Bruins 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.