NCAA BK

Florida hurt by backcourt flaws

Florida's backcourt is the heart of their early-season struggles.
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Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Check out his Yardbarker blog. MORE>>
 
   
 

Something needs to change in Gainesville.

Billy Donovan's Florida team was tabbed before the season to win the SEC and has all the pieces to make a deep tournament run come March.

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However, he's got to figure out a way to get his backcourt of Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker to make quality decisions.

That means Boynton and Walker — who've been score-first guys their entire lives — need to learn to take high-percentage shots and figure out how to make their teammates better.

Chandler Parsons needs to become more involved on the offensive end (he's averaging just 8.5 shots per game). Vernon Macklin proved he can score in the past in the loss to Central Florida, and sophomore Erik Murphy's made the most of limited opportunities.

But Boynton and Walker are shot-hunters (Boynton attempted the most shots on Sunday in a win against American and was 0-for-9 from the field) — and Donovan can't allow that to continue, or else the Gators, who made the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in three years, could wind up back in the NIT again.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Illinois — The Illini slipped up in New York earlier in the season with a loss to Texas in overtime, but Bruce Weber's team proved itself this past week with a pair of fairly easy wins. First came the home victory over North Carolina, and it was followed up with a win in Seattle against Gonzaga. In each game, the Illini had five guys in double figures.

STUD (PLAYER OF WEEK): Chris Wright — Georgetown had as big of a win as anyone in the country when the Hoyas pulled out the overtime victory in Columbia against Missouri. Point guard Wright had 21 points and hit a huge three-pointer at the end of regulation. He also had 21 in a victory over the weekend against Utah State.

SHOWCASE PERFORMANCE: Kyrie Irving — The Duke freshman went for 31 points in a win against Michigan State. Irving was terrific in the win against Kansas State late last month, but he looked nearly unstoppable at times against the Spartans.

POLL

  • Which game are you most looking forward to this week?
    • Kansas-Memphis
    • Michigan State-Syracuse
    • Tennessee-Pittsburgh
    • Other

DUD: Old Dominion — I put Old Dominion in the Top 25 last week, and it appeared like the right move after the Monarchs took care of Richmond, but then Blaine Taylor's team was upset by Delaware on the road. Now, ODU's back on the outside of the Top 25.

WORST LOSS: Dayton — Dropping a game at home to East Tennessee State when the Flyers have one of the best home-court advantages in the country could prove costly down the road.

LOSS WITH AN ASTERISK: Minnesota — The setback early in the week at home to Virginia shouldn't matter down the road, but the NCAA committee needs to understand this one came without point guard Al Nolan and basically without wing Rodney Williams (he logged single-digit minutes) — both of whom are battling injuries.

GAME YOU HAD TO SEE: Georgetown-Missouri — After trailing by 18 points in the first half, Missouri came all the way back and had victory in hand against Georgetown. Laurence Bowers missed a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left with the Tigers up 93-89. After Chris Wright made two shots at the line, Missouri's Michael Dixon made one of two to give Mizzou a three-point lead. Wright then sank a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime, where Jason Clark took over for the Hoyas.

GUY I FEEL FOR: TCU coach Jim Christian — In his third season with the Horned Frogs, he's finally getting them to where they can compete against the upper-echelon teams in the Mountain West. Now, the poor guy's going to have to deal with moving into the Big East in 2012. He's certainly going to need more support from the administration in order to compete in what is arguably the top hoops conference in America.

WEEK TO FORGET: N.C. State — If you're Sidney Lowe, you can deal with the five-point loss in the Carrier Dome to Syracuse over the weekend. However, it was the 87-48 setback to Wisconsin that was downright embarrassing. It doesn't matter whether Tracy Smith was on the floor or not; you can't allow the Badgers to put up 87.

MID-MAJOR TEAM OF THE WEEK: Central Florida — Donnie Jones' team, expected to finish somewhere in the middle of Conference USA, knocked off Florida in Orlando. Remember, Jones is the guy who was side-by-side with Billy Donovan as the Gators won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007. And another storyline to the win: Marcus Jordan, Michael's kid, led the Knights with 18 points.

SWALLOW THE WHISTLE: With just 9.7 seconds left and Kansas and UCLA tied, there was a whistle called on the Bruins' Malcolm Lee that wound up giving the game to the Jayhawks. It just wasn't a call that should have been made .

WEEK'S TOP MATCHUPS

1) Memphis vs. Kansas, Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET in New York — This is the opener to the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, and though the Jayhawks won't have freshman Josh Selby yet, it'll still be a test for Josh Pastner and his young Tigers.

2) Michigan State vs. Syracuse, Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET in New York — It's another matchup of Top 25 teams. The Spartans played Duke tough in Durham; now it's time to see if they can take care of the Orange.

3) Tennessee at Pittsburgh, Saturday, 3:15 p.m. ET — It's an SEC-Big East matchup between a pair of Top 10 teams.

4) Vanderbilt at Missouri, Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET — Mike Anderson's team lost a tough one in overtime to Georgetown, then struggled in Oregon. The Commodores are vastly underrated.

5) Georgetown at Temple, Thursday, 9 p.m. ET — The Hoyas continue to roll while Fran Dunphy and the Owls slipped up early, but should still battle for the A-10 crown.

6) UNLV at Louisville, Saturday, noon ET — The Running Rebs have proven themselves as a Top 25 team, and now Rick Pitino & Co. get a chance to show they belong as well.

Tagged: Duke, Florida, Dayton, Georgetown, Missouri, Kansas, UCF, Erving Walker, Chris Wright, Chris Wright, Kenny Boynton

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