GAINESVILLE — After Florida beat Auburn on Thursday despite scoring the fewest points in Billy Donovan's 15-year tenure, the biggest concern entering Saturday night was how the Gators would respond to the challenge of moving on with a one-day turnaround.
So Donovan took the unusual step of sequestering his team at a hotel Friday night to make sure its focus was where it needed to be. The result was better than the Gators themselves could have expected.
Florida shot 57 percent from the field in the first half and cruised to a 75-43 victory over Arkansas in front of 11,184 at the O'Connell Center on Saturday night.
"It was great that we had the mind-set and determination of forgetting about the Auburn game and coming out focused," senior forward Alex Tyus said.
With South Carolina's 67-58 loss to Kentucky on Saturday, the Gators (15-4, 4-1) seized sole possession of first place in the SEC East.
Florida led 39-17 at halftime, scoring six fewer in the half than it scored in the entire game against Auburn. Arkansas shot 6-of-25 (24 percent) from the field in the half and went the final 10:10 with just one field goal. The Razorbacks (12-6, 2-3) were 0-for-7 from beyond the arc in the half.
With Arkansas choosing to play man defense early, the Gators dominated inside. Senior center Vernon Macklin scored Florida's first eight, and Tyus scored the next four as the Gators took a 12-6 lead. Florida outscored Arkansas 42-20 overall in the paint.
Florida forward Chandler Parsons had a career-high 15 rebounds. The Gators held Arkansas leading scorer Rotnei Clarke scoreless.
"I thought from start to finish it was a complete game for us," Donovan said. "I felt like Arkansas was playing good basketball, so I wasn't sure if we were going to score 12 points in the first half and 18 in the second or what. … The first four minutes of the second half were critical in that we wanted to come out and say, 'Hey, we're not letting up.' "
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.