Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No. 10 Florida Gators beat No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers 74-56

GAINESVILLE — On Tuesday, Florida forward Erik Murphy was so sick with symptoms of a migraine headache, coach Billy Donovan wasn't sure he would be able to play in the following night's game against Wisconsin.

Murphy didn't just play. He dominated.

The senior tied a career high with 24 points and added eight rebounds to lead No. 10 Florida to a 74-56 victory over No. 22 Wisconsin on Wednesday before 9,614 at the O'Connell Center.

Murphy was 10-for-10 from the field, joining Randall Leath, David Lee and Joakim Noah as the only Gators to be perfect from the field in double-digit attempts in a game, and became the sixth Gator to shoot 100 percent in a game.

"We were just hitting shots. What else can you say, really," Murphy said. "We were getting looks, and we were making them. That's just it."

"Murphy had the hot hand … and we were just riding him," said guard Mike Rosario, who had a team-high four assists and 15 points.

With Wisconsin (1-1) known for its physical play, and relentless defense, the Gators (2-0) were expecting a much lower-scoring game. The Badgers led the NCAA in scoring defense last season, allowing an average 53.2 points per game.

But it was Florida's up-tempo pressure game that flourished, particularly in the first half as the Gators opened with a 9-0 run, holding their Big Ten opponent scoreless for the first 5:09. UF shot 75 percent from the field (18-of-24) in the first half, 61.9 percent in the game. Florida held a double-digit lead the final 25:44 of the game.

"To score 74 points against this team, with how they play, and have 20 turnovers, that's unbelievable," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Normally you'd score 35 points against this team.

"What was impressive to me is we scored 74 points, turned it over 20 times and only made six 3s. This was one of those games where you'd expect to look and say. 'Wow, Florida was 15-of-30 from the 3-point line and they bombed them.' But we didn't. We were good driving the ball, attacking, getting it to the rim, getting to the free-throw line. I thought our offense was run at the basket, in the paint, which is what we really talked about trying to do."

The Badgers trailed 43-31 at halftime and didn't fare much better when the Gators went more zone in the second half. Wisconsin made an early 9-0 run in the second half to pull within 52-40 with 13:21 remaining, but that was as close as it got.

"The things we worked on, we did just the opposite," said Badgers coach Bo Ryan, who attributed some of that to his team's youth. "It's tough for this team to come back. We're not ready for that."

Florida held Wisconsin to 35 percent shooting from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range.

"We shot the ball extremely well, but our defense was what held them," Florida junior center Patric Young said.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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