Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sports

No. 14 Florida Gators beat Air Force 78-61

SUNRISE — Reviewing recent games and watching shot after shot clank off the rim, Kenny Boynton decided to wait until he was open before trying to shake his slump.

With that, the ball started falling. Boynton made three 3-pointers in the second half, when No. 14 Florida pulled away to beat Air Force 78-61 on Saturday in the second game of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Boynton had hit 4 of 32 3-pointers over the previous five games, and coach Billy Donovan advised a change in his approach.

"I spent a lot of time watching film with Coach Donovan on the shots I've been taking," Boynton said. "I just tried to take open ones. That's what I tried in the second half."

The senior who grew up in nearby Pompano Beach made three 3s within 8 minutes to break it open. It was likely Boynton's final college game in his native South Florida, and 20 relatives and friends cheered him on.

"I felt good, coming out and playing an all-around good game," he said.

The Gators (9-2) used superior size and smothering defense to grind down the Falcons, who shot 48 percent in the first half then 33 percent in the second.

"A very good Florida team, and we knew that coming in," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "We got a little worn down in the second half, and that was because of our physical stature compared to theirs."

The Gators scored 38 in the paint and had a 36-25 advantage in rebounds. Air Force (8-3) fell to 2-77 against ranked teams.

Boynton, who ranks third in career 3-pointers made at Florida with 282, went 3-of-7 from long range and scored 14.

"It was good to see the ball go in," Donovan said. "This is not the first time he has gone through something like this. I've always told him when he's having a tough time shooting, the biggest thing he can do is take good available shots. When he makes a couple, then he can start taking a little more difficult shots, because he's in that rhythm."

Florida's Erik Murphy had 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, missing two shots in 29 minutes. He was chosen the game's MVP.

"(Saturday) was really a complete game for him," Donovan said. "He scored in a lot of different ways."

The Falcons matched the second-best start in school history through 10 games but hadn't faced a team of Florida's caliber. Air Force's Michael Lyons was held to 11 points, nine below his average, and shot 3-of-14.

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